Asthma identified as possible risk for sleep apnea
Researchers from the University of Wisconsin have found that patients with asthma were more than 1.5 times more likely to develop sleep apnea—a condition in which one’s breathing is briefly and repeatedly interrupted during sleep.
Researchers studied data from a National Institutes of Health study that followed 1500 people since 1988, and discovered strong the strong tie between asthma and sleep apnea. The relationship was especially strong among patients who had asthma since childhood. They found that those patients were nearly 2.4 times likely to develop sleep apnea.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, nearly 12 million Americans suffer from this common sleep disorder that can cause serious complications if left untreated.
“If left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke,” says Dr. Adam Posner, a sleep medicine physician with Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, Ill. “Typically, a routine sleep study will confirm a diagnosis of sleep apnea in patients, but before that patients might experience symptoms such as insomnia, snoring, waking up in the morning with a dry throat or a headache.”
Sleep apnea can be treated in a variety of ways, depending upon the severity of the case, notes Dr. Posner. “There are surgical and non-surgical options, including a continuous positive airway pressure device (CPAP). This is a mask that fits over the face to push air into a patient’s airway while they sleep.”
For patients with asthma, however, researchers urge “clinicians to consider asthma history, as well as more traditional factors associated with [obstructive sleep apnea] OSA such as obesity, when deciding whether to evaluate patients for OSA with a sleep study.”
Hot temperatures can exacerbate asthma, and the recent heat wave that the Midwest has experienced has reinforced the importance of all patients with asthma to check the Air Quality Index (AQI) daily to monitor how clean or polluted the air is, and what associated health effects might be a concern for you.
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