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Sunday, January 16, 2011

CPAP Therapy Reduces Fatigue in Patients with Sleep Apnea

HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 13 Jan 2011

Three weeks of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy significantly reduced fatigue and increased energy in patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), according to a new study.

Researchers at San Diego State University (SDSU; CA, USA) and the University of California San Diego (UCSD; USA) conducted a double-blind study which randomly assigned 59 men and women with OSA to therapeutic or placebo CPAP for a 3-week intervention period. The researchers assessed four outcome measures; fatigue/vigor measured with the Multidimensional Fatigue Symptom Inventory-Short Form (MFSI-sf); both fatigue and vigor subscales of the Profile of Mood States-Short Form (POMS); and the Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS). Questionnaire data were obtained prior to study randomization and after the three-week intervention period.

The results showed that compared with patients receiving placebo CPAP, those patients treated with therapeutic CPAP showed significant reductions in the apnea-hypopnea index, as well as decreases in both measures of fatigue and increases in vigor. The beneficial effect of therapeutic treatment was most pronounced in patients with high levels of fatigue at study onset. Significant treatment effects in sleepiness scores were not observed in the entire sample; however, in a subset of patients with excessive sleepiness at the onset of treatment, ESS scores were significantly reduced with use of therapeutic CPAP. The study was published in the January 1, 2011, issue of the journal Sleep.

“This was one of the first double-blind studies of the effects of CPAP on fatigue,” said lead author Lianne Tomfohr, BA, a graduate research assistant in the joint doctoral program at SDSU and UCSD. “These results are important, as they highlight that patients who comply with CPAP therapy can find relief from fatigue and experience increases in energy and vigor after a relatively short treatment period.”

CPAP therapy delivers a stream of compressed air to a nose mask, thus keeping the airway open under air pressure, making unobstructed breathing possible, and thereby reducing apnea and hypopnea. It is important to understand, however, that it is the air pressure, and not the movement of the air, that prevents the apneas. This has the additional benefit of reducing or eliminating the extremely loud snoring that sometimes accompanies sleep apnea.

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