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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Sleep apnea and brain damage


The blood–brain barrier limits harmful bacteria, infections and chemicals from reaching the brain; studies have found that compromised blood-brain barrier function is associated with significant brain damage in stroke, epilepsy, meningitis, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease and other conditions.
The damage to the brain likely stems in part from the reduction of oxygen to the body as a result of the repeated breathing interruptions. But doctors do not yet fully understand exactly what causes the brain injury and how it progresses.
While previous studies have found that reduced exposure to oxygen and high blood pressure can affect the blood–brain barrier, which in turn can introduce or enhance brain tissue injury, the publication in Journal of Neuroimaging is the first to show that this breakdown occurs in obstructive sleep apnea.
In the new study, the authors found that in patients who had recently been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea and not yet treated, the permeability of the blood–brain barrier was significantly higher than it was in healthy people.
The study was small—nine people with obstructive sleep apnea were compared to nine healthy controls. Now, in addition to confirming these findings in a larger population of obstructive sleep apnea patients, the researchers are planning to study whether strategies known to be effective in overcoming blood–brain barrierbreakdown in people who have had a stroke and other neurological conditions can also help minimize brain injury in people with obstructive sleep apnea or other long-standing respiratory problems.
http://newsroom.ucla.edu/…/ucla-researchers-provide-first-e…