Approximately 10 percent of adults contend with OSA or Obstructive Sleep Apnea, a condition that is characterized with brain dysfunction symptoms like memory problems, anxiety, depression and extreme daytime sleepiness. As per a study published in PLOS One, it is suggested that the damage done in the brain of sufferers of Sleep apnea results in the weakening of brain blood flow.
Paul Macey, of UCLA led this study and National Institute of Nursing Research funded it. People with OSA typically make snorting or gasping noises during sleep, due to which their sleep is momentarily interrupted hundreds of times. Every time the breathing stops, there is a drop in the blood oxygen level and the cells in the body are damaged.
If this condition isn’t treated it can cause depression, diabetes, heart failure, stroke and high blood pressure. As per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, if there is presence of other medical problems like nasal obstruction or congestive heart failure, treating these problems may resolve the condition. Another effective treatment is delivery of gentle air pressure during sleep- usually in the form of CPAP device.
For the latest study, brain blood flow in the patients of sleep apnea was measured by Macey and colleagues with the help of global blood volume and oxygen dependent signal, a non-invasive MRI procedure. Mainly, this method is used for examining the activity of brain. The BOLD signal was used for observing the flow of blood in participants with and without OSA. BOLD Signals were measure during 3 physical tasks:
- Valsala maneuver in which patients breathed out forcefully through a small tube through which pressure in the chest is raised.
- Hand grip challenge in which participants squeezed hard with their hand
- Cold-pressor challenge in which the right foot of the participant was placed for 1 minute in icy water.
It was found that Valsala Maneuver didn’t yield significant difference. However with Cold-pressor and hand grip challenges, individuals with OSA had a much weaker brain blood flow response.