19 Jan Sleep Fragmentation Linked To Damaged Brain Blood Vessels
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MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Andrew Lim MD, FRCPC
Assistant Professor Neurology
Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Dr. Lim: Our group had previously shown that sleep fragmentation is associated with an increased risk of dementia and cognitive decline. However, there were gaps in what we knew about underlying brain changes that may link sleep fragmentation with these neurological outcomes. Experiments in mice and other animals suggested that damage to blood vessels may be one potential mechanism.
In this study of 315 older individuals who had their sleep measured using wrist-watch like accelerometers, we found that individuals who had the most fragmented sleep were also more likely to have more severe damage to brain blood vessels and blood-vessel related brain injury at death.
Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Dr. Lim: Sleep fragmentation may be a potential contributor to (or consequence of) brain blood-vessel related pathology. Although it is too early to say for sure that improving sleep will prevent damage to brain blood vessels, this adds to the growing body of evidence that this may be the case, and adds another reason to get a good night’s sleep.
Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Dr. Lim: Additional studies need to be done to identify which specific causes of sleep fragmentation are most strongly associated with brain blood vessel pathology. Then, formal clinical trials are needed to test whether treating these may prevent brain blood vessel damage.
Dr. Andrew Lim MD, FRCPC (2016). Sleep Fragmentation Linked To Damaged Brain Blood Vessels