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Sleep Apnea Could Worsen Cognitive Deficits in MS Patients

Link found between severity of sleep apnea and performance on attention, memory tests

TUESDAY, June 21, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) may be associated with cognitive dysfunction in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), according to a study published in the May issue of SLEEP.

The study included 38 MS patients who underwent memory, attention, and mental processing tests and were also assessed for OSA. The results showed that 33 participants had the condition.

In addition, “multiple measures of sleep apnea severity directly correlated with poorer performance on several cognitive tests,” study author Anna Kratz, Ph.D., an assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, said in a university news release. “In particular, problems with attention and multiple aspects of memory, including memory for words and images and working memory, which plays a role in problem-solving and decision-making, were all associated with poorer sleep.”

OSA severity was associated with 11 to 23 percent of variation in the participants’ cognitive test performance, although the study could not prove that OSA caused cognitive deficits.

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