Sleep Disorders Can Indicate Other Problems

Published Online: Saturday, January 1, 2005

A study of 22 patients with obstructive sleep apnea or other sleep issues found that the patients also had a high degree of attention-deficit problems, as well as neuromuscular and psychiatric conditions. During the study, the researchers evaluated the degree of sleep apnea as well as the level of attention impairment.

The results, reported at the American College of Chest Physicians meeting (October 25, 2004), indicated that 55% of the participants showed significant attention impairment at the study's onset but improved dramatically after receiving continuous positive airway pressure treatment. The treatment requires the patient to wear a facial mask that creates enough pressure to keep the airway open. On the other hand, 18% of the patients still had serious attentiondeficit problems even after treatment. Further testing found that a majority of the patients also had such conditions as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, depression, and bipolar disorder.

The findings have importance for psychologists and psychiatrists because [they say that,] if you have a person with an attention-deficit impairment, you've got to do a history that includes the possibility of sleep apnea and the possibility of other sleep disorders," said study author Clifford G. Risk, MD. "If you don't do that, you may miss the diagnosis."

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