Washington: People who have asthma may be at higher risk of developing obstructive sleep apnea, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Wisconsin.Using data from the National Institutes of Health (Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)-funded Wisconsin Sleep Cohort Study, which has been following approximately 1,500 people since 1988, researchers found that patients who had asthma were 1.70 times more likely to develop sleep apnea after eight years."This is the first longitudinal study to suggest a causal relationship between asthma and sleep apnea diagnosed in laboratory-based sleep studies," said Mihaela Teodorescu, MD, MS, assistant professor of medicine at the university, who will present the research at ATS 2013.The connection between asthma and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) was even stronger among participants who developed asthma as children. Childhood-onset asthma was associated with 2.34 times the likelihood of developing sleep apnea.The researchers also found that the duration of asthma affected the chances of developing sleep apnea. For every five-year increase in asthma duration, the chances of developing OSA after eight years increased by 10 percent.Participants in the Wisconsin Sleep Cohort, who were all between the ages of 30 and 60 in 1988, complete in-laboratory polysomnography, clinical assessments and health history questionnaires every four years. For the asthma-OSA study, the researchers focused on 773 cohort enrollees who did not have OSA when they joined the study and then determined whether their sleep apnea status had changed after eight years.
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