Sleep-Disordered Breathing in Hospitalized Geriatric Patients with Mild Dementia and Its Association with Cognition, Emotion and Mobility

Sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) is an emerging dementia risk factor. Data on the prevalence of SDB in dementia patients and its association with cognitive impairment is so far only based on patients with severe dementia. In 101 geriatric patients mostly with mild dementia recruited on German geriatric wards, SDB was assessed during overnight polygraphy in the patient room with a portable sleep apnea examination device and associations of SDB severity with severity of impairment in cognitive and emotional function as well as mobility were investigated. We also elucidated which factors influence compliance of SDB diagnostics. In 82 of the 101 dementia patients (81.2%), SDB could be assessed. Of those, only 12.2% had an apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) < 5/h demonstrating the absence of SDB. 40.2% exhibited 5/h ≤ AHI < 15/h representing mild SDB, and 47.6% revealed an AHI ≥ 15/h representing moderate/severe SDB. Patients in these three AHI categories did not significant differ from each other in demographical and clinical characteristics. Patients with an AHI ≥ 15/h particularly often presented with heart failure and vitamin D deficiency. We observed a low to moderate association between severity of SDB and severity of dementia. Tolerance of the nasal airflow sensor of at least 6 h was present in less than one third of all patients. The tolerant group exhibited more symptoms of depression and higher physical fitness compared to the non-tolerant group. We observed a high prevalence of SDB also in geriatric patients with mild dementia underlining the importance of SDB screening in the elderly.


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