Nav: Home

Sleep apnea study finds male-female differences in cerebral cortex thickness, symptoms

March 13, 2018


Researchers from the UCLA School of Nursing examined clinical records and magnetic resonance imaging brain scans of patients who were recently diagnosed with sleep apnea, and discovered several apparent connections between thinning of the brain's cerebral cortex and apnea symptoms. The researchers also could discern distinct changes in brain structures and concurrent symptoms that differed between men and women. For example, more regions of the superior frontal lobe were thinner in women with apnea than men or control groups, which might explain enhanced cognitive deficits among women with the disorder. No sleep apnea patients showed any thickening of the cerebral cortex. In addition, overall cortical thinning could possibly lead to impaired regulation of the autonomic nervous system and associated impaired breathing function through the upper airway in these patients.


Obstructive sleep apnea, which involves disruption of the upper airway, affects about 10 percent of adults. Its cause is unknown. Men are twice as likely to have sleep apnea as women, and symptoms and brain function appear to vary between men and women. However, while previous studies have made connections between brain structure changes and general clinical signs, none have definitively linked sex differences in brain structure with symptoms in sleep apnea. Left untreated, the impact of sleep apnea on brain damage progresses overtime.


Using high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging scans, the researchers looked at cortex thickness of 12 women and 36 men who had diagnoses of mild to severe obstructive sleep apnea (who were not being treated for their condition), and compared those findings to 40 male and 22 female controls (who did not have sleep apnea). The researchers then compared clinical findings of each patient with evidence of cortex thinning.


The study is one of the first to underscore significant clinical differences between men and women with sleep apnea, and points to the need for different treatment approaches to address these varied symptoms. The greater cortex injury in cognitive centers of women's brains may underlie their more common cognitive problems compared with men, while thinning associated with both men and women who have sleep apnea may be behind the disordered breathing seen between both. It is not clear whether these physical brain changes precede the sleep apnea disorder, or worsen sleep apnea's symptoms as the disorder progresses.

UCLA's Dr. Paul Macey is lead author, associate professor at the School of Nursing, and member of the Brain Research Institute at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. Other authors are Natasha Haris, Rajesh Kumar, Albert Thomas, Mary Woo and Ronald Harper, all at UCLA.


The research is published online in the journal PLOS ONE.


The research was supported by the National Institute of Nursing Research.

University of California - Los Angeles Health Sciences

Related Sleep Apnea Articles:

Sleep apnea and insomnia combination linked with depression
A new study found that men with sleep apnea and insomnia have a higher prevalence and severity of depressive symptoms than men with sleep apnea or insomnia alone.
Anti-nausea drug could help treat sleep apnea
An old pharmaceutical product may be a new treatment for obstructive sleep apnea, according to new research presented today by University of Illinois at Chicago and Northwestern University scientists at the SLEEP 2017 annual meeting in Boston.
Sleep apnea and insomnia in African-Americans goes undiagnosed
African-Americans with sleep apnea and insomnia are rarely diagnosed with either problem, even when the severity of the two sleep disorders are likely to affect their health, according to new research presented at the ATS 2017 International Conference.
Sleep apnea may increase atrial fibrillation risk
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) may increase the risk of developing atrial fibrillation (AF), according to new research presented at the ATS 2017 International Conference.
Sleep apnea may increase risk of pregnancy complications
Women with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) appear to be at greater risk for serious pregnancy complications, longer hospital stays and even admission to the ICU than mothers without the condition, according to a new study of more than 1.5 million pregnancies presented at the ATS 2017 International Conference.
Evidence insufficient regarding screening for obstructive sleep apnea
The US Preventive Services Task Force has concluded that the current evidence is insufficient to assess the balance of benefits and harms of screening for obstructive sleep apnea in asymptomatic adults (including adults with unrecognized symptoms).
Regulating 'gasotransmitters' could improve care for sleep apnea
Unbalanced signaling by two molecules that regulate breathing leads to sleep apnea in mice and rats.
Sleep apnea can contribute to recurring pulmonary embolism
Researchers have found that after the first incidence of pulmonary embolism (PE), obstructive sleep apnea increases the risk for PE recurrence.
Sleep apnea immediately compromises blood pressure
A single bout of sleep apnea impacts the human body's ability to regulate blood pressure.
Sleep apnea may make lung cancer more deadly
A team of researchers from the University of Chicago and the University of Barcelona has found that intermittent hypoxia, or an irregular lack of air experienced by people with sleep apnea, can increase tumor growth by promoting the release of circulating exosomes.

Related Sleep Apnea Reading:

Relief from Snoring and Sleep Apnea: A step-by-step guide to restful sleep and better health through changing the way you breathe (No 1 in the BreatheAbility for Health series)
by Tess Graham (Author)

A simple breakthrough approach to getting silent restful sleep and increasing your health and energy. With a foreword by eminent cardiologist and bestselling author, Dr Ross Walker. The secret to getting relief from snoring and sleep apnea, more oxygen to every cell in your body and increasing your energy, lies in getting your breathing right. Breathing is the most basic and most overlooked function of your body. People who snore and have sleep apnea do not breathe correctly. No exceptions. Research shows they ‘over-breathe’ - breathe 2-3 times more air per minute than is normal, both... View Details

VA Sleep Apnea Field Manual
by Chris Attig (Author)

This book was written by a Va Accredited Attorney to help Us Veterans cut through the fog of their Va Sleep Apnea Claims. This book will take you step-by-step through the Va Sleep Apnea claim and help you discover: * Why it is important to get your Va sleep apnea service-connected now. * How to build the four pillars of a Va sleep apnea claim. * What evidence you need to prove and win a Va sleep apnea claim. * The four most common Va sleep apnea claim scenarios and step-by-step guides to proving them. * Specific steps to take to avoid common mistakes Veterans make in sleep apnea claims. *... View Details

Hacking Sleep Apnea: 5th Edition 18 Beginners Strategies to Sleep & Breathe Easy Again…: From CPAP to Oral Appliance Therapy, and the Truth Behind What Actually Works...
by Brady Nelson RRT (Author), Sunny Gill RRT (Foreword)

Sleep Apnea Could Be Killing You.
Sleep Apnea is widely prevalent, affecting 1 in 15 people. As well, it is VERY often either left poorly treated, or not at all. When either is present, a cascade of other conditions frequently exists. These diseases, (High Blood Pressure, Diabetes, Strokes, and so many more) are often treated symptomatically without treating the actual cause. Sleep apnea can be the reason for so many of these diseases.

The amount of treatment options is extensive, with only a select few that lead the way. Some suggest CPAP, some suggest oral... View Details

Sleep Apnea, Denial, and my Worried Wife: Our Journey
by Michael Pellew (Author)

This is my journey to better health after accepting I have sleep apnea. View Details

The 8-Hour Sleep Paradox: How We Are Sleeping Our Way to Fatigue, Disease and Unhappiness
by Dr. Mark Burhenne (Author)

The #1 Amazon Best Seller
Could you be living with an undiagnosed disease that is making you fat, tired, grumpy, unproductive and depressed?
If you...
Wake up exhausted every morning, even though you're getting your 7-8 hoursBlame your lack of energy on your busy lifestyle or getting older...Have been told your snoring sounds like a freight train...Grind or clench your teeth...Are truly terrified to give up coffee...You may be one of the 42 million Americans battling the most urgent epidemic of our time--sleep apnea. (Of those 42 million, up to 90% of them have no idea... View Details

What is Sleep Apnea?: Your Guide to Sleep Apnea Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, CPAP Machines and More!
by Oscar Arias (Author)

Does this sound like you? •Falling asleep at work? •Tired all the time? •Easily irritated? •Spouse complains about your snoring? Then you may have sleep apnea! According to the National Sleep Foundation more than 18 million adults in America have sleep apnea, many of these people aren't even aware that they have it. Untreated, sleep apnea can increase the risk for other serious medical condtions such has heat attacks, strokes, even death. This book is an introduction to sleep apnea, you'll learn the symptoms, risks, and available treatments. This is an excellent resource for those who... View Details

Sleep Apnea in Children: A Handbook for Families
by David G Ingram MD (Author)

Has your child been diagnosed with sleep apnea? If so, you're not alone. In this comprehensive handbook for parents, pediatric sleep experts provide answers to the most common and difficult questions from parents, including: What is sleep apnea? What causes sleep apnea? How is sleep apnea diagnosed? How do I prepare my child for a sleep study? What are the treatment options? Why take the tonsils and adenoids out? How do I get my child to wear CPAP?

1. Sleep Basics
Njideka Osuala, DNP, APRN
2. Understanding Sleep Apnea
Bahauddin Al-Shawwa, MD
3. Sleep... View Details

Sleep, Interrupted: A physician reveals the #1 reason why so many of us are sick and tired
by Steven Y. Park MD (Author)

Maybe you're stressed out and tired, and have put on a little weight. Or you have persistent pain you and your doctor can't explain. Man or woman, you may be fighting fluctuating hormone levels. Or maybe you snore like a freight train. Anything that narrows the throat and interrupts sleep, particularly breathing problems brought on by sleep position, illness, life changes, or your anatomy, may be key to understanding a host of common health issues. In this groundbreaking book, Dr. Steven Park outlines a simple, rational explanation for what s making you sick, and provides guidance for... View Details

Freedom from Cpap: Sleep Apnea Hurts, the Cure Doesn't Have To
by David Dillard (Author), Mayoor Patel (Contributor)

Obstructive sleep apnea quietly destroys memory, motivation, and even marriages. Jobs are lost, promotions delayed, and relationships strained. Performance and workplace safety is threatened, as is the ability to excel where the now-sleep-deprived once thrived. In Freedom from Cpap: Sleep Apnea Hurts, the Cure Doesn't Have To, authors and doctors David Dillard and Mayoor Patel have teamed up to provide a uniquely comprehensive overview of sleep apnea from both an Ent and a dental perspective. View Details

Sleep Apnea - The Phantom of the Night: Overcome sleep apnea syndrome and snoring
by T. Scott Johnson (Author), William A. Broughton (Author), Jerry Halberstadt (Author), B. Gail Demko (Author), Carl E. Hunt (Author), William Dement (Author), Colin Sullivan (Author)

Sleep apnea disrupts the lives of millions of unsuspecting victims. Their struggle to breathe during sleep is a major cause of daytime sleepiness, accidents, poor health, lost years of productivity and happiness, and even death. Experts in sleep medicine and a patient guide people with snoring and sleep apnea and their families to take advantage of dramatically effective medical treatment. Broughton, the medical director of the accredited University of Alabama Knollwood Sleep Disorders Center, updates current advances. Demko reviews oral appliance therapy. They explain sleep as well as sleep... View Details

Best Science Podcasts 2018

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2018. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

The Consequences Of Racism
What does it mean to be judged before you walk through the door? What are the consequences? This week, TED speakers delve into the ways racism impacts our lives, from education, to health, to safety. Guests include poet and writer Clint Smith, writer and activist Miriam Zoila Pérez, educator Dena Simmons, and former prosecutor Adam Foss.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#465 How The Nose Knows
We've all got a nose but how does it work? Why do we like some smells and not others, and why can we all agree that some smells are good and some smells are bad, while others are dependant on personal or cultural preferences? We speak with Asifa Majid, Professor of Language, Communication and Cultural Cognition at Radboud University, about the intersection of culture, language, and smell. And we level up on our olfactory neuroscience with University of Pennsylvania Professor Jay Gottfried.