A new study has demonstrated that older adults who experience obstructive sleep apnea may be at increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease, reports Medical News Today.

Obstructive sleep apnea is characterized by the occasional inability to breathe while asleep, due to a collapse of the airway. This may cause the sleeper to wake up repeatedly during the night whenever breathing becomes difficult, resulting in disturbed sleep patterns.

Recent data suggest that in the United States, the prevalence of this disorder is around 34 percent for men and 17 percent for women, which makes it a fairly common health issue. However, specialists say that in up to 80 percent of cases, the condition remains undiagnosed.

Tied with a large number of negative health outcomes — including heightened risk of heart attack and type 2 diabetes — obstructive sleep apnea may also be linked to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease in the older population, new research suggests.