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Obstructive Sleep Apnea Patients Have More Occurrences Of Parasomnia Symptoms

June 9, 2009

Patients suffering from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) have an increased prevalence of parasomnia symptoms compared with the prevalence rates of individual parasomnias, according to a research abstract that will be presented on Tuesday, June 9, at SLEEP 2009, the 23rd Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies.

Results indicate that the frequency of parasomnia symptoms in individuals with OSA was 9.5 percent, compared to the 2.9 to 4 percent prevalence of parasomnias in adults older than 15 years of age without OSA. Twenty percent of the study’s participants reported an improvement of their parasomnia symptoms with use of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy.

According to lead author Maria Viola-Saltzman, DO, at the University of Washington in Seattle, OSA is known to cause sleep fragmentation, which predisposes patients to the expression of parasomnia symptoms.

“We found it interesting that the parasomnia symptoms reported in this patient population were amongst all age groups, as parasomnias are most common in children and young adults,” said Viola-Saltzman.

The study was based on retrospective chart reviews of 537 new patient referrals for evaluation of OSA at Loyola University Medical Center in Chicago. Patients were at least 18 years of age, had a polysomnogram diagnostic of OSA and documentation of the presence or absence of parasomnia symptoms.

Fifty-one patients (59 percent women, 84 percent of non-Hispanic origin and average age of 47 years) had one or more types of parasomnia complaints. Twenty-one people (38

percent) reported sleep paralysis, 16 (29 percent) reported sleep-related hallucinations, 11 (20 percent) reported acting-out dreams (suggesting REM sleep behavior disorder), five (9 percent) reported sleepwalking, one person reported sleep-related eating and one person felt a ‘pulling down sensation’ on her spine at sleep onset.

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