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Epilepsy may increase sleep-disordered breathing: Study

Last Updated: Monday, June 3, 2013 - 14:52

Melbourne: Patients with epilepsy may have an increased incidence of sleep-disordered breathing, a latest Australian study has found.

The link between epilepsy and obstructive sleep apnea, a condition where patients stop breathing at night is being taken as an interesting find.

Terry O`Brien of Royal Melbourne Hospital said there were some evidence from other studies that patients with epilepsy may have an increased incidence of sleep-disordered breathing, ABC reported today.

O`Brien said there were similar symptoms of daytime sleepiness and fatigue between the two conditions.

He said patients with epilepsy can gain weight as a result of their medications, something that increases their risk of sleep-disordered breathing.

"We put two and two together and thought we should look into this," he said.

Doctors had recruited 87 patients with epilepsy and monitored them in a sleep unit.

It was found that 25 per cent had significant sleep-disordered breathing that was severe enough to require treatment.

In the general population, the prevalence of sleep-disordered breathing is between three to seven per cent.

O`Brien further said that the recent research has shown that there was a well-established treatment for sleep-disordered breathing.

He said when epilepsy patients were given a CPAP machine, there was a significant improvement.

Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine helps a person who has obstructive sleep apnoea breathe more easily during sleep.

"The patients are having tremendous benefits, and they feel better because they are less sleepy," he said.

According to a sleep physician of Royal Melbourne Hospital, Jeremy Goldin, the fact that so many epilepsy patients have sleep apnea is a very interesting finding.

"We knew that patients with seizures were at an increased risk of sleep apnea; however, we didn`t expect an increase to the extent that we found," he said adding "If we can diagnose sleep apnea in these patients, we can start them on CPAP therapy [so] they can control their seizures, improve their sleep quality, improve how they feel during the day."


First Published: Monday, June 3, 2013 - 14:52
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