`Sleep disorder may help predict brain diseases early`

Last Updated: Thursday, July 29, 2010 - 00:00

New York: Does your partner complain that
you kick or lash out while asleep? If yes, you are more likely to develop dementia or Parkinson`s disease later in life,
scientists claim.

Researchers said these are the symptoms of a certain type of sleep disorder which may be an early signal to developing
other neurological disorders many years later.

This is called the rapid eye movement, or REM, sleep
behaviour disorder (RBD), a condition in which patients
violently act out their dreams during the rapid eye movement
cycle of sleep.

The findings, published in the journal `Neurology`, added
to evidence that certain sleep disorders could be a predictor
of brain diseases.

This raised the possibility that doctors could one day be
able to provide earlier diagnoses, researchers said.

"Our findings suggest that in some patients, these
conditions have a very long span of activity within the brain
and they may also have a long period of time where other
symptoms aren`t apparent," said study author Bradley Boeve,
from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

For their study, Boeve and his team analysed Mayo Clinic
records and identified 27 people suffering from REM sleep
disorders for at least 15 years before developing either
Parkinson`s, dementia with Lewy bodies or multiple system
atrophy -- a disorder similar to Parkinson’s.

Thirteen of the patients were diagnosed with dementia,
another 13 with Parkinson`s and one with multiple system
atrophy.

The time between the start of the sleep disorder and the
symptoms of brain disease ranged up to 50 years, with an
average span of 25 years, the researchers found.

It was also found that 89 per cent of the patients in the
sample were men, although it`s not clear why, as neurological
disorders affect both genders, the authors said.

Boeve cautioned that "not everybody that acts out dreams
at night has RBD." They may have another sleep disorder
producing similar symptoms, he said.

And it`s unlikely that everyone with RBD will go on to
develop Parkinson`s or a kindred disorder, if they live long
enough, he added.

Experts, however, said the new findings aren`t enough by
themselves to make a difference in patients` lives.

Ruth Sutherland of the Alzheimer`s Society said: "We
don`t yet understand why this correlation exists, and given
the small sample size of this study, more research is needed."

PTI



First Published: Thursday, July 29, 2010 - 00:00

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