Effects of sleep apnea syndrome on delayed memory and executive function in elderly adults

Gawon Ju, In Young Yoon, Sang Don Lee, Tae Hui Kim, Jin Young Choe, Ki Woong Kim

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OBJECTIVES: To identify differences in cognitive function between elderly adults with sleep apnea syndrome (SAS) and healthy controls. DESIGN: Cross-sectional. SETTING: Sleep laboratory at Seoul National University Bundang Hospital. PARTICIPANTS: Sixty-three elderly adults (26 female; mean age 68.2 ± 4.8) without cognitive disorders. MEASUREMENTS: Sleep-laboratory polysomnography findings and cognitive function results determined using the Korean version of the Consortium to Establish a Registry for Alzheimer's Disease Neuropsychological Assessment Battery. RESULTS: When the control group (apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) < 15) was compared with the groups with mild to moderate (15 ≤ AHI < 30) and severe (AHI ≥ 30) SAS, significant differences in delayed recall (P = .003) and errors on the Trail-Making Test Part B (TMT B; P = .009) were observed, with participants with severe SAS showing greater impairment on both tests than controls (P = .02 and P = .01, respectively). Stepwise multiple regression showed that oxygen desaturation index (β = -0.37, P = .003) and educational level (β = 0.24, P = .04) determined delayed recall impairment (adjusted coefficient of determination (R2) = 17.8%, P = .003). TMT B errors were independently associated with educational level (β = -0.41, P = .001) and AHI (β = 0.31, P = .007; adjusted R2 = 25.7%, P = .001). CONCLUSION: Severe SAS is associated with measures of delayed recall and executive function in cognitively healthy older adults. Although further study is needed, this evidence may provide further rationale for the treatment of SAS in older adults. Moreover, the role of SAS as a risk factor for cognitive disorders needs to be determined.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1099-1103
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2012


  • Cognition
  • Elderly
  • Sleep apnea syndrome

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