Snorers Losing Brain Matter

Some startling new research is being presented this week at a conference in Australia. According to researchers at the Institute for Breathing and Sleep at Melbourne’s Austin Health, snorers who have obstructive sleep apnea have reduced grey matter — the cells that make up the important parts of your brain.

From an article in today’s edition of The Australian:

Lead author and sleep physician Fergal O’Donoghue said in collaboration with British colleagues, researchers scanned the brains of 60 sleep apnoea sufferers using hi-tech magnetic resonance imaging machines, and compared the results with scans from 60 control patients without sleep apnoea.

“What we found was there did appear to be some changes in the brain in patients with sleep apnoea,” Dr O’Donoghue said.

While he said it was a “chicken and egg” situation as to whether sleep apnoea caused brain shrinkage, or vice-versa — or no causal link existed either way — it was likely the apnoea was to blame.

“I think the probability is that it’s secondary, that the sleep apnoea causes the changes,” he said.

Researchers say it’s not clean whether treating sleep apnoea effectively, restoring blood oxygen levels through the night, could reverse the shrinkage.

Source: The Australian