Sleep Apnea Causes Memory Loss

Sleep apnea sufferers may suffer brain tissue damage, which is responsible for memory.

Other researches have already proved the link between sleep apnea and risk of stroke, heart disease, and diabetes. This new research says that sleep apnea also leads to memory loss.

Sleep apnea patients stop breathing when asleep. They wake up to breathe normally and take oxygen. Breath interruption happens because throat, soft palate and tongue muscles relax, narrow the way for air to get inside. These patients may wake up about hundred of times during a night, this is why they never sleep well and are sleepy during daytime and have difficulties with remembering things and concentration.

Problems with memory were thought to be because of lack of sleep, but the research shows that it is caused by serious damage of brain tissue.

A team of researchers from University of California, Los Angeles examined patients with sleep apnea. They did MRI scans for brain underside tissues called mammillary bodies and found that the examined 43 disease sufferers had 20% smaller mammillary bodies than 66 participants without the disease.

Researchers suggest that the continuing lack of oxygen causes serious brain tissue damage leading to memory loss. Memory problems continue even when patients receive proper sleep apnea treatment, meaning that brain damage is very serious and difficult to recover.

There are other diseases such as Alzheimer’s, leading to brain tissue damage, and these patients are taking thiamine or vitamin B1 to stop brain cell death. ULCA researchers are planning a further research to see if vitamin intake will stop brain damage in sleep apnea patients as well.

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Zolpimist Mouth Spray Insomnia Treatment OKed By FDA

NovaDel Pharma, Inc. has received approval from the FDA for the insomnia treatment drug containing the active ingredient found in Ambien. The drug Zolpimist, is delivered as a mouth spray, and is approved for insomnia treatment short-term. The drug contains Zolpidem, found in Ambien, one of the most popular drugs on the market used for the treatment of insomnia.

Steven B. Ratoff, Chairman of the Board and Interim CEO of NovaDel, says, “We believe the FDA’s approval of Zolpimist provides patients with an important treatment option for insomnia, as Zolpimist provides rapid absorption from the oral mucosa. This achievement is another major milestone for NovaDel as it further validates our ability to develop innovative drugs based on the NovaMist technology. We are actively seeking a partner to commercialize this innovative product and believe that this approval should enhance those efforts.” Zolpidem is the second drug developed by the company as a mouth spray.

The drug is approved for use in those who has difficulty falling asleep, and should be taken immediately before going to bed.

Warnings about the insomnia treatment spray include avoidance of driving or operating heavy machinery the morning after using the insomnia spray. The company also warns of the possibility of sleepwalking, the same warning that comes with the oral drug Ambien. Other warnings include drug dependence, dizziness and headache.

Criteria for insomnia include difficulty falling asleep, or staying asleep. The mouth spray developed by the company is designed for rapid absorption when compared to conventional pills that are taken by mouth. Studies also show that drugs sprayed into the mouth are easier metabolized by the liver, as they are is eliminated from the body.

Other drugs for the treatment of angina, nausea, central nervous system disorders and migraine headache are also available as oral sprays. The company says using mouth sprays for drug delivery improves patient adherence and the inconvenience of swallowing a pill. Zolpimist for insomnia treatment is the newest addition.

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Many Drugs Prescribed for Chronic Insomnia Are Not Approved for That Purpose

Chronic Insomnia Medication

The most frequently used medication for treating chronic insomnia have never been approved for that purpose by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), according to a sleep expert from Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center.

Vaughn McCall, M.D., M.S., professor and chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine, told a special consensus panel at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) today that he could find no evidence that randomized controlled clinical trials had ever been conducted for five of the 10 pharmaceuticals prescribed most often for chronic insomnia.

None of the 10 is currently approved for insomnia, though all are FDA-approved as antidepressants, antipsychotics or sedatives, he said. The NIH State-of-the-Science Conference on Manifestations and Management of Chronic Insomnia in Adults, sponsored by the National Institute of Mental Health and Office of Medical Applications Research, will continue through Wednesday, seeking to build consensus on a series of questions on chronic insomnia.

“There is widespread use of off-label prescribed medications for insomnia,” said McCall, who directs the sleep laboratory at Wake Forest Baptist. But he said that evidence to support their effectiveness is poor.

He said that during the 1990s, the use of FDA-approved sleep medications called hypnotics declined by 54 percent between 1987 and 1996, “while the use of trazodone (Desyrel) and other sedating antidepressants rose by 146 percent. This trend continued through 2002, such that trazodone became the most frequently used medication for the treatment of insomnia.” He said that 78 percent of psychiatrists now make trazodone their first choice.

“In addition to trazodone, a wide variety of antidepressants, antipsychotics and sedatives gained favor for the treatment of insomnia despite the fact that none of these medications are approved for the treatment of insomnia.”

McCall said the widespread use of these drugs “suggests that there must be substantial evidence supporting this practice.” Therefore, he searched the medical literature for all 10 drugs, looking for randomized controlled trials, especially those in which the drug being tested was compared to an inert placebo.

He said he found one study that showed that trazodone was superior to placebo in the first week of treatment for insomnia, but no better than placebo in the second week. For patients already on antidepressants, he found two small short-term trials that showed use of trazodone was better than placebo. He found a limited number of small studies to support use of four other drugs.

“Why are they used so often?” he asked.

One possible reason was that many of the approved hypnotic drugs, which are controlled substances, have firm limits on duration of use, forcing psychiatrists to find something else. Secondly, “Erroneous beliefs on the part of providers that off-label medications have demonstrated sustained efficacy and are safer,” he said.

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Chronic Insomnia Raises Mortality Risk

If you experience chronic insomnia, researchers with the Wisconsin Sleep Cohort Study have found that individuals with this sleep disorder have a threefold greater mortality risk than people without insomnia. The results of the study will be presented on June 7, 2010, in San Antonio, Texas at the 24th annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC.

According to the National Center for Sleep Disorders Research at the National Institutes of Health, about 30 to 40 percent of adults report symptoms of insomnia within a given year. From 10 to 15 percent of adults say they have chronic insomnia. Chronic insomnia is defined as an inability to fall asleep and/or remain asleep at least three nights a week for one month or longer.

The Wisconsin Sleep Cohort Study included 2,242 volunteers who completed two to three surveys for years 1989, 1994, and 2000. Investigators conducted a social security search in 2010 and found that 128 of the participants had died during the 19-year follow-up.

The investigators, studying chronic insomnia, made adjustments for age, sex, and medical conditions such as chronic bronchitis, heart attack, stroke, hypertension, depression, and diabetes. They found that compared with people who did not have insomnia, those with chronic sleep problems were two to three times more likely to die from all causes.

The risk of dying was analyzed in four subtypes of insomnia: chronic early-awakening insomnia (threefold risk), chronic sleep-maintenance insomnia in which people have trouble going back to sleep (threefold), chronic sleep-onset insomnia (2.4-fold), and chronic sleep-maintenance insomnia in which people wake up repeatedly during the night (2.3-fold).

Chronic insomnia can be caused by a variety of factors. According to the Sleep Foundation, insomnia is higher among older people and women. Although rates of insomnia increase with age, most often chronic insomnia is associated with a medical condition. Depression is one of the most common causes, while others include arthritis, heart disease, kidney disease, asthma, hyperthyroidism, sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome, and Parkinson’s disease.

Laurel Finn, a biostatistician at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the study’s lead author, noted that “Insomnia is a burdensome symptom,” and that “identification of insomnia as a mortality risk factor may have clinical implications and raise the priority level for insomnia treatment.”

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Chronic Insomnia in Men Could Mean Early Death

Researchers at Penn State College of Medicine, Pennsylvania, found that there is a four times greater risk of premature death for those men who suffer from chronic insomnia. In addition, the study deduced that women can cope with a lack of sleep far better than their male counterparts, as insomnia proved to have little effect on their life expectancy.

Insomnia is a risky and serious disease

The newest research found that insomnia is a “serious disease with significant physical consequences, including mortality,” said study leader Alexandros N. Vgontzas, director of Penn State University’s Sleep Research & Treatment Center in Hershey, Pennsylvania. The study clearly found that chronic insomnia in men could mean early death.

Insomnia is defined as difficulty falling or staying asleep and is the most common sleep disorder, affecting about 30 percent of people in the U.S., according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Chronic insomniacs are those who have had the disorder consistently for at least a year.

Though the researchers didn’t specifically study people who reported lack of sleep due to their lifestyle, Vgontzas emphasized that “losing sleep for whatever reason is bad for your health.” For instance, he has published previous results showing that curtailing sleep in young adults by two hours a night for just one week is linked to inflammation that may cause cardiovascular problems.

The new study changes “how we view insomnia,” said Vipin Garg, director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Trinitas Regional Medical Center in Elizabeth, New Jersey. “It definitely is pointing attention to insomnia as more than a psychological disorder,” said Garg, who was not involved in the research.

There was no such link between insomnia and premature death in women, insomniacs and healthy sleepers both had a mortality rate of just over 2 percent during the study period. The study did conclude however that chronic insomnia in men could mean an early death.

There could be two reasons for the gender discrepancy, Vgontzas said. Since the women’s study was started later, there was not as much time for follow-up as for the men. It’s also possible there’s a “gender effect” – though insomnia is less common in men, it’s generally more severe, he said.

The researchers did not include cause of death in their study, but study leader Vgontzas said that “no one dies directly from insomnia.” Insomnia can wear on people gradually, making them more likely to succumb to other ailments.

Dr. Kirsten Bracht at Denver’s Porter Adventist Hospital says these studies emphasize the importance of getting a full night of sleep. “I think most people are becoming aware now that they aren’t sleeping as much as they should,” Bracht said. “I think in the past we all thought we could get away on less sleep, and I think we are understanding and realizing how important sleep is.” Researchers will continue to study why chronic insomnia in men could mean early death.

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