OSA More Prevalent in Patients with Severe Asthma

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August 10, 2009

Researchers have found obstructive sleep apnea to be more common in patients with severe asthma compared with patients with moderate asthma, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology . Sleep apnea is a disorder in which breathing is briefly and repeatedly interrupted during sleep. The "apnea" in sleep apnea refers to a breathing pause that lasts at least ten seconds. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the muscles in the back of the throat fail to keep the airway open, despite efforts to breathe. The study — conducted by researchers at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec — followed 26 patients with severe asthma, 26 patients with moderate asthma and 26 control patients without asthma who were of similar age and body mass index. Patients underwent a complete overnight home polysomnography and filled out quality of life questionnaires. Using more restrictive scoring criteria, sleep apnea was found in the majority of patients with severe asthma (50 percent), while apnea was only found in 23 percent of patients with moderate asthma and 12 percent of control patients. Overall, apnea was significantly more prevalent in patients with severe asthma and more prevalent in patients with asthma compared with the control group.