Sleep apnea may lead to cognitive problems

November 12, 2010 (CHICAGO)

A new study found obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) may cause structural defects in the brain's gray matter, and can cause problems with cognitive functions such as attention and memory.

Scientists believe the brain changes are likely caused by the intermittent oxygen deprivation that occurs in OSA patients, who temporarily stop breathing many times each night.

However, the study in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine found the brain changes are partially or fully reversible with early detection and treatment.

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