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Sleep Apnea Therapy Improves Memory Performance

Regular CPAP users show nearly eightfold increase in performance compared with irregular users

THURSDAY, Dec. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with obstructive sleep apnea who adhere to their nightly positive airway pressure treatments may improve their verbal memory performance during the day, researchers report in the December issue of Chest.

Molly Zimmerman, Ph.D., of Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, N.Y., performed neuropsychological tests on 58 memory-impaired patients with obstructive sleep apnea before and after a three-month period of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment. Patients were categorized based on their adherence to treatment guidelines, which was covertly monitored with a microchip processor.

The investigators found that optimal users increased their memory performance 7.9-fold over poor users and were more likely to exhibit clinically normal memory performance. Optimal therapy use was defined as greater than six hours per night.

"CPAP has proven to be an effective treatment for patients with obstructive sleep apnea yet adherence to treatment remains poor," said Mark J. Rosen, M.D., F.C.C.P., president of the American College of Chest Physicians, in a statement. "Physicians should educate their patients with obstructive sleep apnea about the importance of using CPAP consistently and discuss ways to overcome obstacles to adherence."

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