Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) affects 22 million people in the United States and is linked to a higher risk of hypertension, heart attacks, stroke, diabetes, and other chronic illnesses. Until now, researchers from the University of Missouri School of Medicine have found that untreated OSA also accelerates the biological aging process and that appropriate treatment can slow or possibly reverse the trend.
Age acceleration testing involves a blood sample that analyzes DNA and uses an algorithm to measure a person''s biological age. The phenomenon of a person biological age exceeding their chronological age is referred to as epigenetic age acceleration, which is linked to overall mortality and chronic diseases.
According to Rene Cortese, an assistant professor at the Department of Child Health and the Department of Gynecology, and womens health, age acceleration isn''t unique to OSA, because it can be caused by a variety of environmental factors, such as smoking, poor diet, and pollution. In Western cultures, epigenetic age acceleration is not uncommon, but we wanted to understand how OSA affects systemic age acceleration compared to those who have no illness.
A corteses team examined 16 adult nonsmokers who were diagnosed with OSA and compared them to eight control subjects without the condition to examine the effect of OSA on epigenetic age acceleration in a one-year period. After a baseline blood test, the OSA group received continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment for one year before being tested again.
OSA-induced sleep disturbances and decreased oxygen levels during sleep led faster biological age acceleration compared to the control group, according to Cortese. However, OSA patients who adhered to the CPAP showed a deceleration of the epigenetic age, while the age acceleration trends did not change for the control group. biological age acceleration is at least partially reversible when effective OSA treatment is implemented.
Cortese believes that a solid commitment to using the device for at least four hours per night will be critical to CPAP success in reducing age acceleration. It''s not clear how age acceleration will affect clinical outcomes and how it applies to other risk groups or children with OSA.
This study, claiming that OSA children are treated differently than adults, raises a lot of questions. We need to understand the mechanisms and nature of these findings. It''s very engaging and thought-provoking.