Improve the health of the people of Wisconsin by supporting and strengthening physicians' ability to practice high-quality patient care in a changing environment.

WMJ Vol. 118 No. 1: Original Research

A Unique Pattern on Memory Testing in Dementia Screening Predicts Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Donn D. Dexter, MD; Amber G. Ebert, PsyD


Read the full article:
Download PDF




Objectives: The Repeatable Battery for the Assessment of Neuropsychological Status (RBANS) is used to screen for dementia in many Wisconsin Alzheimer Institute memory care clinics. After observing a pattern of lower scores for immediate memory than for delayed memory (immediate memory < delayed memory) that seemed to predict obstructive sleep apnea in patients seen in our memory care clinic, we aimed to confirm the validity of this finding.                                                                                                                                                                                           Methods: We retrospectively identified all patients seen in our memory care clinic from December 2011 through December 2014 who completed the RBANS. The frequency of obstructive sleep apnea was determined among those with the pattern of interest (immediate memory < delayed memory).                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Results: Among 191 patients who met the inclusion criteria, 81 (42%) displayed the immediate memory < delayed memory pattern. Of these, 54 patients had been or were subsequently tested for obstructive sleep apnea; 35 (65%) were positive. In the positive group, the mean age was 74 years; 60% were women.                                                                                                                                                                                                       Conclusions: Obstructive sleep apnea is a known risk factor for cognitive dysfunction. It is a potentially treatable cause of memory loss that can be clinically silent. This study shows that a unique pattern (immediate memory < delayed memory) on the RBANS commonly used at memory care clinics can identify a group of patients who can be evaluated and treated for this common and remediable condition.                                                                                                                                                                             Author Affiliations: Mayo Clinic Health System, Department of Neurology, Eau Claire, Wis (Dexter); Coram Consulting, LLC, Rice Lake, Wis (Ebert).

Corresponding Author: Donn D. Dexter, MD, Mayo Clinic Health System, Department of Neurology, 1400 Bellinger St, Eau Claire, WI 54703; phone 715.838.1911; fax 715.838.1934; email dexter.donn@mayo.edu.

Funding/Support: None declared.

Financial Disclosures: None declared.