Heavyweights tag-teamed by sleep apnea's partners

American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine
Thursday, October 6, 2011

A study in the journal Sleep and Breathing shows that people with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) may pit themselves against more than just a breathing disorder.

OSA occurs when a person’s throat collapses during sleep, disrupting their breath and repeatedly arousing them from sleep. It is associated with snoring and daytime sleepiness. OSA affects approximately four percent of men and two percent of women in the U.S.

A group of India-based researchers found that OSA patients were three times more likely to experience obesity, hypertension, diabetes, mellitus and hyperlipidemia (HLP). People with HLP have high blood cholesterol and triglycerides.

The study included 234 adults 54 years of age or more who tested positive for OSA. Compared to members of the 56 control group, who demonstrated an average of one pause in breath per hour, members of the OSA group experienced 31 pauses in breath per hour.

Body weight also varied between the control group and OSA patients. The body mass index was 36 among OSA patients in contrast to 29 for the control group.

Of the OSA group, 30 percent of patients had HLP, 59 percent were diabetic and 86 percent were hypertensives. Nonrestorative sleep, awakening with choking, nocturnal dyspnea, insomnia with frequent awakenings, nocturia, and diaphoresis were observed in more than 80 percent of patients.

Results indicate that sleep-disordered breathing syndrome was strongly associated with the metabolic syndrome.

Weight loss has been shown to reduce OSA severity. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends weight loss, oral appliance therapy, and CPAP for OSA treatment.

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