Sleep-disordered breathing and cognition in older women

J Am Geriatr Soc. 2008 Jan;56(1):45-50. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.2007.01506.x. Epub 2007 Nov 28.


Objectives: To investigate the association between objectively measured sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) and cognitive impairment in community-dwelling older women and to determine whether the apolipoprotein E (APOE) epsilon4 allele modifies this association.

Design: Cross-sectional.

Setting: Participants' homes and two sites of the Study of Osteoporotic Fractures (SOF).

Participants: Four hundred forty-eight women with a mean age+/-standard deviation (SD) of 82.8+/-3.4.

Measurements: Participants completed the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), Trail Making Test Part B (Trails B), and polysomnography (PSG). SDB indices were the apnea-hypopnea index (AHI), the central apnea index (CAI), and oxygen saturation (SaO2) nadir less than 80%. APOE epsilon4 was determined for a subset of 242 women. Cognitive impairment was defined as 1.5 SDs or more from the sample mean on either cognitive test (MMSE or Trails B).

Results: All SDB indices were associated with cognitive impairment according to the MMSE (AHI (per SD, odds ratio (OR)=1.4, 95% confidence interval (CI)=1.03-1.9), AHI of > or = 30 (OR=3.4, 95% CI=1.4-8.1), SaO2 nadir < 80% (OR=2.7, 95% CI=1.1-6.6), and CAI (per SD, OR=1.4, 95% CI=1.1-1.7)). Weaker, nonsignificant associations emerged between SDB and Trails B. In women who completed genotyping, each SD increase in AHI was associated with 70% greater odds of cognitive impairment according to the MMSE (OR=1.7, 95% CI=1.2-2.6). Women with the epsilon4 allele had a nearly five times greater odds of impairment (per SD, OR=4.6, 95% CI-1.0-20.7); the association was smaller and nonsignificant in women without the epsilon4 allele (per SD, OR=1.5, 95% CI-0.9-2.4; P for interaction=.08).

Conclusion: SDB is an important risk factor for cognitive impairment in older women, especially those with the APOE epsilon4 allele. Mechanisms linking these disorders need to be identified.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology*
  • Cognition Disorders / physiopathology
  • Cognition Disorders / psychology
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Odds Ratio
  • Plethysmography
  • Prospective Studies
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Risk Factors
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / complications*
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / physiopathology
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors