Background and purpose: Patients with obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) present cognitive deficits similar to those observed with aging. The aim of the study was to assess the effects of age on cognitive functions in OSAS patients. It was hypothesized that older OSAS patients will exhibit significant cognitive dysfunction relative to younger OSAS patients and controls.
Patients and methods: Younger and older OSAS patients were compared to younger and older control subjects (age cut-off set at 50 yrs). Participants underwent a polysomnographic (PSG) and neuropsychological evaluation. Variables were analyzed by two-way analyses of variance (ANOVAs) with two factors: Group (control and OSAS) and Age (younger and older). Additionally, we evaluated the contribution of attentional deficits to cognitive dysfunction for each subgroup of patients by using Spearman correlation coefficients.
Results: No Group-by-Age interaction was found for any neuropsychological variables (p<0.05). However, main Group and Age effects were found. Correlations indicated that attentional deficits contributed importantly to a poorer cognitive performance in younger OSAS patients only (p<0.01).
Conclusions: Our results are in agreement with those of the literature for both OSAS-related and aging-related cognitive deficits but did not demonstrate that age interacts with the effects of the OSAS condition to make those cognitive deficits worse.