Thursday, March 18, 2010

Treating Sleep Apnea to Raise Quality of Life

New research indicates that idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) patients may have a high rate of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

The National Institute of Health explains that IPF is a condition in which a person’s lung tissue becomes thick and stiff, or scarred, over time. As the tissue becomes thicker, the lungs lose their ability to move oxygen into the bloodstream. As a result, the brain and other organs do not get enough oxygen. The cause is unknown and there is no cure.

A recent study in the journal Sleep and Breathing assessed the frequency of OSA in recently diagnosed IPF patients. None of the patients had begun treatment for IPF.

The study included 34 patients recently diagnosed with IPF, of which 13 were female and 21 were male. Patients’ ages ranged from 41 to 81 years.

Each patient spoke with a sleep specialist and took a sleep test at one of four sleep centers in Greece.

During the sleep test, 59 percent of the participants stopped breathing more than five times per hour. Their breathing worsened during REM sleep.

At the clinical interview, 20 percent of the patients reported excessive daytime sleepiness and 38 percent reported snoring. Twenty-three percent reported that someone had witnessed their sleep apnea.

Why are IPF patients vulnerable to OSA?

The researchers explain that restrictive pulmonary diseases like IPF can reduce the upper-airway stability, causing airway collapses. Reduced muscle activity between the ribs during REM sleep can escalate the problem.

The researchers believe that OSA in underdiagnosed in IPF patients because physicians are focused on other serious side effects of IPF. While IPF is a rapidly progressing disease with no cure, the researchers suggest that diagnosing and treating OSA could help improve the quality of life of IPF patients.

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The Official Blog of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM) is intended as an information source only. Content of this blog should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment, and it is not a substitute for medical care, which should be provided by the appropriate health care professional. If you suspect you have a sleep-related breathing disorder, such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), you should consult your personal physician or visit an AASM-accredited sleep disorders center. The AADSM, and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, as the managing agent of the AADSM, assume no liability for the information contained on the Official Blog of the AADSM or for its use.