Researchers have found a link between asthma and sleep apnea. Study findings indicate that treating the sleep disorder may help patients control their asthma. "[For] a lot of folks that we otherwise would have said this is a separate problem, we are now realizing there is a connection," said researcher William Bria, MD.
For the study, 115 patients with asthma who were not doing well on regular medication completed questionnaires. The early data showed that 49% of women and 33% of men were at risk for sleep apnea. Of the participants, 55% reported excessive daytime sleepiness, a symptom of sleep apnea. "This tells us that a lot more people with asthma need to have sleep studies,"noted Dr. Bria. "When patients are having problems with asthma, their doctors need to look at more than whether they are taking enough puffs from their inhalers."
Oftentimes, sleep apnea is treated with a device that provides continuous positive airway pressure. The research team is currently conducting a study to determine whether patients with persistent asthma see a difference with treatment from the device.