A family selects furniture at the 11 Furniture Store in Kunming, southwest China's Yunnan province, July 28, 2011. REUTERS/JASON LEE
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People who would go on to have mild cognitive impairment or Alzheimer's disease tended to first show signs of memory decline years earlier if they had sleep-disordered breathing that was untreated.The study adds to growing evidence that obstructive sleep apnea is not only "a severe and serious disease associated with cardiovascular morbidity or mortality, but also brain health and neurocognitive health," said Dr. Timothy I. Morgenthaler, a sleep-disordered breathing expert at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.Since sleep apnea is so under-diagnosed, many people in the group who said they did not have it probably did, which could make the true difference in cognitive decline onset even larger, said Morgenthaler, who wasn't involved in the study. It is also possible that sleep apnea does not itself cause cognitive decline, and that those who pursue treatment and use a CPAP machine tend to live overall healthier lives than people who do not, Osorio said.
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