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Monday, August 08, 2005

'Dying in sleep' linked to apnea, experts say

People who die in their sleep may stop breathing because they have lost too many brain cells, U.S. researchers reported Monday.

Sleep apnea — a condition in which people stop breathing for long stretches of time in their sleep — may sometimes be caused by the destruction of cells in the brain stem, where autonomic functions such as breathing are controlled, they said.

Tests on rats showed that the loss of key brain stem cells that die off with age caused such disrupted sleep that the animals eventually stopped breathing completely.

Read more: 'Dying in sleep' linked to apnea, experts say


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