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PLoS One. 2010 Apr 16;5(4):e10211. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0010211.

Relationship between obstructive sleep apnea severity and sleep, depression and anxiety symptoms in newly-diagnosed patients.

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  • 1School of Nursing, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, United States of America. pmacey@ucla.edu

Abstract

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) occurs in at least 10% of the population, and leads to higher morbidity and mortality; however, relationships between OSA severity and sleep or psychological symptoms are unclear. Existing studies include samples with wide-ranging comorbidities, so we assessed relationships between severity of OSA and common sleep and psychological disturbances in recently diagnosed OSA patients with minimal co-morbidities. We studied 49 newly diagnosed, untreated OSA patients without major co-morbidities such as mental illness, cardiovascular disease, or stroke; subjects were not using psychoactive medications or tobacco (mean +/- std age: 46.8+/-9.1 years; apnea/hyponea index [AHI]: 32.1+/-20.5 events/hour; female/male: 12/37; weight <125 kg). We evaluated relationships between the AHI and daytime sleepiness (Epworth Sleepiness Scale; ESS), sleep quality (Pittsburg Sleep Quality Index; PSQI), depressive symptoms (Beck Depression Inventory-II; BDI), and anxiety symptoms (Beck Anxiety Inventory; BAI), as well as sex and body mass index (BMI). AHI was similar in females and males. Mean levels of all symptoms were above normal thresholds, but AHI was not correlated with age, ESS, PSQI, BDI, or BAI; only BMI was correlated with OSA severity. No differences in mean AHI appeared when subjects were grouped by normal versus elevated values of ESS, PSQI, BDI, or BAI. Consistent with other studies, a strong link between OSA severity and psychological symptoms did not appear in these newly diagnosed patients, suggesting that mechanisms additional to the number and frequency of hypoxic events and arousals occurring with apneas contribute to adverse health effects in OSA. OSA patients presenting with mild or moderate severity, and no major co-morbidities will not necessarily have low levels of sleep or psychological disturbances.

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