Epidemiological studies have suggested that obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) may
increase the risk of developing cognitive impairment. In patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD), the
prevalence of OSAS is much higher than that expected in cognitively healthy subjects. A deeper
knowledge of the pathophysiological link between OSAS and AD and the demonstration that OSAS
may directly influence the development of cognitive alterations, would increase prevention and
treatment strategies for AD patients. In this article, we discuss the evidence of the association between
OSAS and dementia. Moreover, we present data about the functional and anatomic cerebral changes induced by OSAS
and the possible effects on cognitive activities and on AD pathogenesis. The possibility to positively influence cognitive
impairment by OSAS treatment will be also discussed.
Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease, cognitive deterioration, continuous positive airway pressure, obstructive sleep apnea
syndrome, pathophysiology, preventive strategies.
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