Evidence for the obesity/sleep apnea connection is mounting, but asthma is back on the radar thanks to researchers at the University of Wisconsin (UW).
In a new study “Asthma Predicts 8 Year Incidence Of Obstructive Sleep Apnea In The Wisconsin Sleep Cohort” presented at the recent American Thoracic Society meeting in Philadelphia, PA, researchers used data from a National Institutes of Health (Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute) and Wisconsin Sleep Cohort Study, which followed approximately 1,500 people since 1988. Patients who had asthma were 1.70 times (95% CI=1.15-2.51) more likely to develop sleep apnea after eight years.
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“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 UW, who will present the research at ATS 2013. “Cross-sectional studies have shown that OSA is more common among those with asthma, but those studies weren’t designed to address the direction of the relationship.”
Pediatric asthma patients had an even stronger likelihood to develop sleep apnea later in life. Specifically, childhood-onset asthma was associated with 2.34 times (95% CI=1.25-4.37) the likelihood of developing sleep apnea.
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.