Sleep apnea therapy eases fatigue in three weeks

2010 10 08 09 59 19 326 Sleep Apnea 70

CHICAGO (Reuters) - People with obstructive sleep apnea were less sleepy after three weeks of treatment with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) compared with patients using a sham therapy, U.S. researchers said on Saturday.

The findings show that regular use of CPAP really does make a difference for these individuals in terms of fatigue, the researchers say.

"These results are important as they highlight that patients who comply with CPAP therapy can find relief from fatigue and experience increases in energy and vigor after a relatively short treatment period," said co-author Lianne Tomfohr of San Diego State University and the University of California, San Diego, in a statement.

Several studies have shown that CPAP can reduce other health risks associated with obstructive sleep apnea, such as the risk of stroke, but few have studied the impact on fatigue, which can reduce work performance and increase the risk of accidents.

For the current study, published online January 1 in Sleep, Tomfohr and colleagues studied 59 adults in their late 40s who had at least 10 episodes of apnea per hour of sleep.

These volunteers were randomly assigned to either CPAP or a sham therapy. Both groups were trained on the proper use of the equipment and filled out questionnaires.

After three weeks, volunteers in the CPAP group had significant reductions in apnea-hypopnea index, as well as significantly less fatigue on two independent scoring tools. They also reported having more energy.

The beneficial effect of CPAP was most pronounced in patients with high levels of fatigue at baseline, the researchers reported.

There were no such improvements among those who got the placebo treatment.

Therapeutic CPAP significantly reduced daytime sleepiness in patients who reported excessive sleepiness at the onset of treatment," the authors conclude.

By Julie Steenhuysen


Sleep 2011.

Last Updated: 2011-01-03 12:55:20 -0400 (Reuters Health)

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