Can Acid Reflux Medications Cause Dementia?

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An interesting article caught my attention regarding the association between long-term proton pump inhibitor use and rates of dementia. Researchers from the University of Rostock in Germany analyzed over 73,000 medical records from an insurance database from 2004 to 2011. What they found was that patients receiving proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) for acid reflux were found to have significantly higher rates of dementia (44%). 

My interest in this study comes from the fact that acid reflux and obstructive sleep apnea tend to go hand in hand. Obstructive episodes can create tremendous vacuum forces in the chest and throat cavities, literally suctioning up normal stomach juices into the esophagus and even the throat. Besides conservative recommendations, acid-reducing medications such as PPIs (various brands include Prilosec, Nexium, and Prevacid) are usually prescribed. All these medications work by blocking the proton pump in the acid-secreting cells in the stomach. Another class of medications includes the H2 blockers, with two common brand names seen is Tagamet or Zantac. These medications are sold over the counter, as well as by prescription. It’s estimated that the market value for acid reflux medications in 2016 was $5.66 billion. 

Here are some of my comments and observations about this study:

  1. Mouse models have shown increased rates of beta-amyloid buildup in mice given PPIs.
  2. PPI use was shown to block the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, potentially leading to dementia. 
  3. Untreated obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is also associated with higher rates of dementia. In this Taiwanese insurance database study, there was an overall 1.7x increased risk of having dementia if you also had OSA. For older males (ages 50 to 59), the risk was 6x higher, and for older females (> 70), about 3x higher.
  4. In this prospective study, older women (average age 82) without dementia were found to develop higher rates of mild cognitive impairment (1.85x) if they had obstructive sleep apnea (AHI > 15).
  5. Intermittent hypoxia (low oxygen levels), which is commonly seen in patients with untreated obstructive sleep apnea has been shown to increase levels of beta-amyloid plaques in mice.
  6. Acid reflux medications do nothing to prevent acid reflux. Instead, they lower acid production in the stomach, rather than keeping stomach contents in the stomach. What comes up, however, still includes bile, bacteria, and digestive enzymes. Pepsin, a well-known stomach enzyme, has been found in the lung, ear and nasal/sinus areas.

It’s important to realize that all of the above-mentioned studies don’t prove cause and effect, but only associations. It’s hard to tease out if dementia and OSA have the same causes (leading to an association), or if needing to take …

Can Sleep Apnea Lead to an Unhealthy Heart?

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Man sleeping on side snoring; wife in backgroundMost people don’t realize they’re suffering from sleep apnea until they’ve received a proper diagnosis. As such, it’s fairly easy to overlook the potentially devastating effect the condition could have on your health. Sleep apnea can cause your breathing to stop 5 to 30 times every hour while you’re asleep, and the loss of oxygen can put a strain on your body – and that naturally includes your heart. Read on to learn more about the connection between breathing-related sleep disorders and heart health – and why being proactive about improving the quality of your slumber might save your life.

What Link Has Been Found Between Sleep Apnea and Heart Health?

According to Harvard Medical School, patients with untreated sleep apnea are up to five times more likely to experience a fatal heart disease. Furthermore, roughly 47 to 83 percent of patients with cardiovascular disease are also found to have sleep apnea. Note that this link may be partially due to the fact that heart problems and breathing-related sleep disorders are both connected to obesity. That said, the direct effect of sleep apnea on your heart cannot be overlooked.

How Does Sleep Apnea Damage Your Heart?

During sleep apnea, breathing is repeatedly stopped, causing oxygen levels in your body to drop. As a result, your brain will release adrenaline due to the stress that a lack of oxygen places on your body. If adrenaline levels remain high for an extended amount of time, your blood pressure will rise. High blood pressure can easily lead to stroke and heart disease – two leading causes of death and disability in the United states.

Do You Have Sleep Apnea?

It’s estimated that about 20 percent of adults have some form of sleep apnea. Anyone can suffer from the condition, but it tends to be more common in men as well as people who are overweight. The most noticeable sign of sleep apnea is typically loud snoring, which will most likely be reported by a roommate or sleeping partner. Other symptoms are more subtle, but they might include chronic exhaustion, insomnia, occasionally waking up gasping for air, general irritability, and weight gain.

What to Do About Sleep Apnea

The good news is that you can reverse much of the impact sleep apnea has on your health by having the disorder properly treated. After having a sleep study performed, you can talk to a sleep dentist about getting an oral appliance that keeps your airway open so that you don’t have to worry about it becoming blocked at night. Different appliances might be used depending on your needs and the severity of …

To Breathe, or Not to Breathe, That is the Question: The Face Mask Controversy

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I couldn’t understand why my head was throbbing. I wasn’t feeling well at all. There was no fever or any other signs or symptoms of an infection. I had eaten a healthy dinner before starting my 12-hour overnight shift in the ICU. 

It was 3 AM, and my four patients were relatively stable. I decided to go to the break room to eat a snack. A few minutes after taking off my N95 mask, my headache went away completely. I felt my scalp with my fingers and noticed two deep crevices where the tight elastic bands had left their marks. The mask had clearly cut off blood flow to my scalp.

After returning to the nursing station in front of my patients, I noticed that I was more clear-headed and less anxious. The few minutes of escape from my mask with unrestricted blood flow to my scalp and normal breathing without a mask was liberating.

The Face Mask Controversy

During the past few months of the coronavirus pandemic, there have been a number of recommendations by The World Health Organization (WHO) and the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that have been reversed, or even contradictory. The recommendation for using a face-mask is one of such guidelines, with conflicting studies, changing recommendations, and even a study publication retraction. 

Several studies from past pandemics as well as recent ones suggest that using a face mask (non-N95) may lower the rate of virus transmission. Other studies have refuted such findings. However, I am not going to address whether or not face masks can potentially reduce infections. There are so many variables that affect rates of transmission, I don’t think there ever will be a definitive answer. What I wish to focus on in this blog article are the documented side-effects of using a face mask.

Comparing Apples to Oranges

In contrast to rigorously controlled research studies, regular people who wear face masks us a variety of different masks. There are countless other variables, such as the fit, facial shapes and sizes, mask materials, and even your ability to breathe normally without a mask. To ask whether or not a face mask works is not the right question. What we should be asking is, to what degree does a specific type of mask, if worn and used properly, offer protection from transmitting or being infected with the coronavirus, compared to the potential side effects. Just like any prescription medication, there are side effects. Some people will have more side effects than others.

Known Complications of Face Mask Use

Any type of mask or covering over your nose and …

The Surprising Link Between Vitamin D and the Sleep Neurotransmitter Acetylcholine [Podcast #91]

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Interview With Doctor Stasha Gominak

Please join me on this fascinating interview with Dr. Stasha Gominak, where she will give us an update on Vitamin D and the gut biome. Dr. Gominak’s two past interviews were two of the most popular downloaded podcast episodes.

In this 84 minute interview, she will discuss:

  • How vitamin D is linked to acetylcholine, an important brain neurotransmitter
  • Acetylcholine’s role in sleep
  • New findings about vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid).

Watch video on Vimeo player



Download mp3  |  Subscribe


Show Notes

Dr. Stasha Gominak’s website


The post The Surprising Link Between Vitamin D and the Sleep Neurotransmitter Acetylcholine [Podcast #91] appeared first on Doctor Steven Y. Park, MD | New York, NY | Integrative Solutions for Obstructive Sleep Apnea, Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome, and Snoring.

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Sleep Talk: Episode 55 – Medication in Pregnancy

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Episode 55: Medication in Pregnancy

Pregnancy can be a challenging time, particularly for women with sleep disorders such as narcolepsy who rely on medications to manage symptoms. There isn’t clear information to guide either women or their healthcare providers on what to do during pregnancy. To discuss managing women with narcolepsy during pregnancy we spoke to Dr Michael Thorpy from Montefiore Medical Centre, New York.

Dr Moira Junge (Health Psychologist) and Dr David Cunnington (Sleep Physician) host the monthly podcast, Sleep Talk – Talking all things sleep.

Leave a review and subscribe via Apple Podcasts

Audio Timeline / Chapters:

  • 00:00 – 02:36 Introduction
  • 02:36 – 26:29 Theme – Medication in Pregnancy
  • 26:29 – 27:46 Clinical Tip
  • 27:46 – 30:40 Pick of the Month
  • 30:40 – 32:36 What’s Coming Up?

Next episode: Sleep and Pain

Links mentioned in the podcast: 


Guest interview:

Dr. Michael Thorpy is Director of the Sleep-Wake Disorders Center at the Montefiore Medical Center, Bronx, New York. Both a clinician and a well-published researcher, Dr. Thorpy serves as Professor of Clinical Neurology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. In addition, Dr. Thorpy served on the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) Board of Directors and founded and directed the NSF’s National Narcolepsy Registry, which was located at Montefiore Medical Center. He is past Chairman of the Sleep Section of the American Academy of Neurology. He is President of the New York State Society of Sleep Medicine (NYSSSM). He has published extensively on narcolepsy, insomnia, and sleep disorders. His 14 print books include “The Encyclopedia of Sleep and Sleep Disorders”. He has published more than 100 peer-reviewed articles, including publications in journals such as The New England Journal of Medicine. Dr. Thorpy’s computerized textbook on sleep medicine, SleepMultiMedia (available on DVD-ROM), is the only one of its kind.

Regular hosts:

Dr Moira JungeDr Moira Junge is a health psychologist working in the

My Interview on Healthy Home Habits Summit: How to Promote Health, Reduce Toxins, and Create a Home That Keeps You Healthy!

Originally at: Domonique Silva

As a husband, parent, and physician, I know how hard it is to get trustworthy information that helps you get down to the root causes of your health challenges.

I remember when I first had my revelation about the importance of proper breathing during sleep, which lead to me write my book, Sleep Interrupted. Over the years, however, I realized that health and wellness are more than just good breathing and optimal sleep. It’s about addressing various other important factors, many of which come from your environment: what you eat and what you are exposed to.

That’s why I was so thrilled when my friend Domonique told me she was hosting an interview series all around this topic, which actually came out of her own research project to learn how to promote health and reduce toxins around the home and inside the body. Domonique is an Environmental Health and Safety Specialist and she has struggled through her own health challenges over her lifetime.

Her summit is called: Healthy Home Habits: How to Promote Health, Reduce Toxins, and Create a Home That Keeps You Healthy!

21 experts are unifying to help each other satisfy this calling. We have to take more control of our health and healing and learn more about the risks that threaten us. Together, we want to help you with the how and the what behind the toxins in your environment while giving practical tips that you can apply right away. Domonique will interview me about the importance of good sleep as a prerequisite for your body to heal properly and to better detoxify any toxins you may be exposed to.

You can register here. It starts Monday, June 1.

Just so you know, you will be able to watch from your home, office, or on the go. This is a great opportunity for anyone in my community who is out there seeking answers to your health problems, (and of course, you can also attend if you are just curious).

This is something I wish I had when Kathy and I started our personal health journey. This is why I am so glad Domonique is hosting this and that I get to share it with you.

Click here to register for the Healthy Home Habits Summit.

Hope to see you on Domonique’s summit.

The post My Interview on Healthy Home Habits Summit: How to Promote Health, Reduce Toxins, and Create a Home That Keeps You Healthy! appeared first on Doctor Steven Y. Park, MD | New York, NY | Integrative Solutions for Obstructive Sleep Apnea, Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome, and Snoring.

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7 Ways You Can Prevent Putting on Pounds During This Pandemic

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One casual observation I’ve seen during countless Zoom and FaceTime sessions with old friends and acquaintances is that many seem to have gained significant weight. I admit that just by seeing their faces onscreen is not an objective way of documenting weight gain. But from what I’m seeing and hearing from patients during our video sessions, many are telling me that they have gained significant weight in the past 4 to 6 weeks. Some of the reasons why people are putting on pounds are pretty obvious, but some are not.

Here are 7 reasons why you may be gaining weight during the pandemic and what you can do about it.

1. Less Physical Activity

This is the most obvious change for everyone. Since I’ve been doing more video teleconferencing for meetings and patient encounters, I’ve been sitting dramatically for longer periods of time. When I’m seeing patients, I’m often getting up, walking around, greeting patients, walking over to my secretary or another staff member to ask a question. Now, everything is done in front of a computer. 

Sitting for long periods without regular breaks has been found to lead to less productivity and creativity. Regular 5 to 10 minute breaks every 45 to 60 minutes is important not only to increase productivity but also to create a sense of time-limited urgency, like catching up on all your work and loose ends before going on vacation. Everyone has different needs regarding how long to work in-between breaks. The important point is that you need to take the time for regular breaks. 

One new routine (and now ritual) that our family started is a short walk outside along with our dog, Louie. We’ve been doing it after every dinner, as well as after lunch if I can join them. This was a custom I remember doing while growing up in South Korea. It brings back fond memories of my childhood. If you Google health benefits of walking after dinner, you’ll see countless articles and studies supporting this activity, especially with glucose control. 

2. Less Sun Exposure

Many people have jobs that already requires working indoors, but now it’s even a greater proportion, especially with the pandemic lockdowns. Sunlight is a crucial component of your internal circadian clock. It resets the daily 24 hour rhythms of the body, optimizing all body functions, as well as to prepare you for optimal sleep at night. In fact, it’s been recently discovered that every cell in your body has genes for a 24-hour clock.

In addition, sunlight is a major factor in your body’s ability to make vitamin D, which is a hormone …

Sleep Talk: Episode 54 – Sleep in Healthcare Workers

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Episode 54: Sleep in Healthcare Workers

Healthcare workers often have to work shifts that can incorporate long hours and working at times they would normally be sleeping. This can lead to fatigue, sleep difficulties and impact health and performance. To understand these factors and how research is working towards finding solutions we interview Dr Julia Stone of Monash University.

Dr Moira Junge (Health Psychologist) and Dr David Cunnington (Sleep Physician) host the monthly podcast, Sleep Talk – Talking all things sleep.

Leave a review and subscribe via Apple Podcasts

Audio Timeline / Chapters:

  • 00:00 – 04:15 Introduction
  • 04:15 – 21:30 Theme – Sleep in Healthcare Workers
  • 21:30 – 22:11 Clinical Tip
  • 22:11 – 23:55 Pick of the Month
  • 23:55 – 25:25 What’s Coming Up?

Next episode: Sleep Medications in Pregnancy

Links mentioned in the podcast: 


Guest interview:

Dr Julia Stone is a Research Fellow in the Turner Institute for Brain and Mental Health, Monash University. Her research interests include individual variability in circadian rhythms and sleep, the role of circadian disruption on health and performance, and computational modeling approaches for circadian phase estimation in applied field settings. Julia completed her PhD at Monash University and Alertness CRC investigating modelling sleep and circadian factors in healthcare workers. Julia’s recent research papers are available via her Monash University profile.

Connect with Julia on Twitter – @JStone_247

Regular hosts:

Dr Moira JungeDr Moira Junge is a health psychologist working in the sleep field, who has considerable experience working with people with sleeping difficulties in a multidisciplinary practice using a team-based approach. Moira is actively involved with the Australasian Sleep Association (ASA) and a board member of the Sleep Health Foundation. She has presented numerous workshops for psychologists and is involved with Monash University with teaching and supervision commitments. She is one of the founders and clinic directors at Yarraville Health Group which was established in 1998. 

Connect with Moira on Twitter – @MoiraJunge

Dr David CunningtonDr David Cunnington is a sleep physician and director of Melbourne Sleep Disorders Centre, and co-founder and contributor to SleepHub. David trained in sleep medicine both in Australia and in the United States, at Harvard …

Can Coronavirus Cause You to Gain Weight?

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I have to admit that the title is a head fake. There are no studies that I’m aware of that suggests that catching the coronavirus may lead to weight gain. However, I will make a strong argument that for many people, it can promote weight gain indirectly through these 5 possible scenarios:

  1. Altered Eating Patterns

Sheltering in place definitely changed everyone’s eating habits, timing, as well as food quality. There’s no doubt that many more people have to order their meals, which in general tends to be less healthy. Even if you wanted to cook more often at home, everything has changed. Grocery shopping can be an ordeal, with long lines, empty store inventories, and stressful environments. This change in your cooking/eating/purchasing patterns is sure to alter what you eat, when you eat, as well as how much you eat. Watching more online movies at night can also promote snacking later into the evening times. This goes against my most important health recommendation to improve sleep—don’t eat or snack within 3-4 hours of bedtime. 

  1. Altered Exercise Patterns

For those of you who rely on regular gym facilities, your exercise patterns are severely disrupted. Many of you are resorting to online courses or live-streams, but it’s not the same as physically working out at the gym with others or even on your own. It’s likely that the duration or intensity of your exercise routine is now much lower. This can contribute to challenges in losing weight.

  1. Altered Sleep Patterns

Although you may think that you have more time to sleep due to the shelter in place regulations, it’s not necessarily true. Many people are watching more movies or television programs. Oftentimes, it can go later into the night, leading to sleep deprivation. Furthermore, whether you watch on your widescreen TV or computer, extra blue lights from the LED screen will lower an important sleep hormone, melatonin. This will delay the time you want to fall asleep. As mentioned before, watching TV late at night is associated with snacking. It’s proven that lack of sleep significantly promotes weight gain.

  1. Less Sunlight/Lower Vitamin D

Even with the onset of spring and warmer temperatures, sheltering in place lessens time spent outdoors. This means less time for sun exposure, leading to lower levels of vitamin D. In general, most Americans have low levels of vitamin D, and what we ingest in our food supply is not nearly enough. A healthy gut biome (with optimal sleep and healthy diet) is needed for proper vitamin D absorption, as well as conversion to the active form of vitamin D that the body uses as a …

Special Online Event: Presenting My Narcolepsy Story & Book Reading

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Join me for a very special FREE ONLINE EVENT!

This Sunday, May 10th at 8:00 p.m. EDT, tune in to Project Sleep’s Facebook Page to hear my inspiring narcolepsy presentation and to read a few favorite passages from my memoir. Full details about the broadcast.

I’ve presented this around the world in Italy, Ireland, Sweden, Australia and the United Kingdom, but never live online like this. 

About the Talk:

In this unique broadcast, I will share her journey—from wanting to push narcolepsy out of my life to finding self-acceptance, writing Wide Awake and Dreaming: A Memoir of Narcolepsy and founding Project Sleep. I will read a few favorite passages from my book. In addition, I will share what’s helped me to “live well” with narcolepsy, offer tips to get started in advocacy and awareness, and answer questions from live viewers.

Spread the Word

Please share this opportunity with friends and family – I promise the broadcast will be fun, thought-provoking and moving — because that’s how I roll!  

Giving this online presentation is honestly a special moment for me so thank you for your support –  I cannot wait! Thank you for your support.

Full Event Details:

from Blog – Julie Flygare…