In a new study from Aarhus University and Aarhus University Hospital, researchers found that patients who suffer from REM sleep behavior disorder have altered blood flow in the brain, which can lead to a lack of oxygen in the brain tissue.
In the long term, this may cause symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
Do you sleep restlessly and flail your arms and kick out in your sleep? This could be a sign of a disorder associated with diseases of the brain.
In the study, the team examined whether the sleep disorder RBD—which is also known as Rapid Eye Movement Sleep Behavior Disorder—may be an early sign of Parkinson’s disease.
They tested 20 RBD patients aged 54-77 years and 25 healthy control subjects aged 58-76 participated in the study.
The participants in the study were monitored in a sleep laboratory, where they had their EEG (electrical activity in the brain), EOG (eye movements), EMG (muscle activity) and ECG (electrical activity in the heart) measured during sleep.
The patients and the healthy people were tested cognitively and MRI scanned, and the results revealed low blood flow and flow disturbances in the small blood vessels in the brain in the patients compared with the control group.
In the patients, these flow disturbances seen in the cerebral cortex were linked to language comprehension, visual construction and recognition—this was also associated with reduced cognitive performance.
The researchers believe that the same disease processes that cause disrupted sleep also affect the ability to control the blood flow in the brain, which can lead to a lack of oxygen in the brain tissue.
Over time this will gradually break down the brain tissue and cause symptoms that we see in Parkinson’s disease.
The changes in the brain are associated with reduced neurotransmitters, meaning that nerves in the brain have trouble controlling the blood vessels.
The team says a medical treatment would be able to restore the neurotransmitter and control the blood vessels, thereby helping to maintain the cognitive function of patients who show early signs of Parkinson’s disease.
Parkinson’s disease is a chronic condition that continues to worsen over time. Symptoms are slow movements, often with shaking, together with muscular rigidity.
About half of the patients experience cognitive decline early in the disease. The disease is somewhat more common in men than in women.
Parkinson’s disease occurs because the brain lacks dopamine. It primarily affects adults and the first signs most often appear between the ages of 50-70.
If you care about Parkinson’s disease, please read studies about these vitamins may help prevent Parkinson’s disease and findings of Parkinson’s disease: blood changes may occur years before diagnosis.
For more information about Parkinson’s treatment and prevention, please see recent studies about Parkinson’s disease is on your skin and results showing that gut health strongly linked to Parkinson’s disease.
The study is published in Brain. One author of the study is Simon Fristed Eskildsen.
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