A polysomnography-based study involving patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) found that both the apnea-hypopnea index and the oxygen desaturation index were associated with brain white matter hyperintensities (WMHs).

Study results were recently published in JAMA Network Open.

In a general population–based, cross-sectional, observational study, researchers evaluated apnea-hypopnea index and oxygen desaturation index during a single-night, laboratory-based polysomnography measurement. Associations were then examined between these common sleep apnea markers and brain WMHs data automatically segmented from 1.5-T magnetic resonance images.

Among the 529 study participants who underwent polysomnography testing, the mean age was 52.15 years and 53% of the population was female. A diagnosis of OSA was made according to apnea-hypopnea index criteria in 209 study participants and in 102 study participants according to oxygen desaturation index criteria. Both the apnea-hypopnea index and oxygen desaturation index were significantly associated with brain WMH volumes. This difference remained significant even after accounting for vascular, metabolic, and lifestyle risk factors.

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