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Sleep disorders could cause cognition problems due to this gene

A new study has found that people who are genetically susceptible to Alzheimer’s disease also face a greater risk of lower cognition from sleep-disordered breathing.

According to the study, published in the journal Annals of the American Thoracic Society, individuals with the ε4 allele, an alternative form of the APOE gene that supports injury repair in the brain, have a higher chance of Alzheimer’s disease. An estimated 20 percent of people carry the ε4 allele.

The new study evaluated whether the APOE-ε4 allele gene also influences the link between sleep-disordered breathing and cognition. The authors defined sleep-disordered breathing based the number of stopped or shallow breaths per hour.

Poorer attention and memory and daytime sleepiness were more strongly associated with APOE-ε4 carriers, the new study found.

Screening and treating sleep-disordered breathing could help reduce a person’s risk of dementia, especially if they carry APOE-ε4, said the study’s senior author, Susan Redline of Harvard Medical School.

“Our study provides further evidence that sleep-disordered breathing negatively affects attention, processing speed and memory, which are robust predictors of cognitive decline,” Redline said. “Given the lack of effective treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, our results support the potential for sleep-disordered breathing screening and treatment as part of a strategy to reduce dementia risk.”

By: David Beasley, Staff Writer

Source: American Thoracic Society

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