Veterans With PTSD And Sleep Apnea Get Help From CPAP Therapy
July 9, 2013

CPAP Therapy Could Reduce Nightmares In Veterans With PTSD, Sleep Apnea

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

One type of ventilation therapy can help reduce nightmares amongst veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), according to a new study recently published in an online supplement of the journal SLEEP.

Principal investigator Sadeka Tamanna, medical director of the Sleep Disorders Laboratory at G.V. (Sonny) Montgomery VA Medical Center in Jackson, Missouri, and colleagues report the mean number of nightmares experienced by PTSD and OSA patients fell significantly when they used continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) - a type of breathing therapy which maintains a continuous flow of air pressure intended to keep the patients airway from closing during sleep.

Furthermore, they also found reduced nightmare frequency after starting CPAP was best predicted by CPAP compliance. The results of their research were presented by Tamanna at SLEEP 2013, the 27th annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC, which was held from June 1 through June 5 in Baltimore, Maryland.

"Patients with PTSD get more motivated to use CPAP once they get restful sleep without frequent nightmares, and their compliance improves" Tamanna said. "One out of six veterans suffers from PTSD, which affects their personal, social and productive life. Nightmares are one of the major symptoms that affect their daily life, and prevalence of OSA is also high among PTSD patients and can trigger their nightmares."

The researchers conducted a retrospective review of medical records to identify OSA patients who were also diagnosed with PTSD and were treated in a US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical sleep center between May 2011 and May 2012. They extracted the mean number of nightmares each week prior to treatment and up to six months after CPAP prescription, and compliance to the breathing treatment was determined through the use of CPAP memory cards, they explained.

In related news, a study published last month in the journal Science Translational Medicine claimed to have discovered a potential new treatment for PTSD. The study authors, which included experts from Emory University, University of Miami and Scripps Research Institute, claimed to have found a compound that successfully reduced PTSD-like symptoms in mice after they were exposed to stress.