By Crystal Phend, Senior Staff Writer,
Published: October 31, 2010
Reviewed by Robert Jasmer, MD; Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco and
Dorothy Caputo, MA, RN, BC-ADM, CDE, Nurse Planner Earn CME/CE
■Note that this study was published as an abstract and presented at a conference. These data and conclusions should be considered to be preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
■Explain to interested patients that almost all combat veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (98%) have a sleep disorder -- with more cases of sleep apnea than might otherwise be expected.
■Note that just more than half (54%) of these military PTSD patients were diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea.
VANCOUVER -- Combat veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) almost universally suffer sleep problems -- with more cases of sleep apnea than might otherwise be expected -- U.S. Army researchers found.
In a group of 135 young, otherwise healthy combat veterans with PTSD, 98.5% reported sleep complaints, Nick Orr, MD, and colleagues at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., reported here at the annual international scientific meeting of the American College of Chest Physicians (CHEST).
Despite their relatively young age (around 35) and slightly overweight physique, 54% of the PTSD patients who underwent polysomnography at Walter Reed were diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) -- whereas, in the general population, the rate of OSA is only 20%.
It can be all too easy to dismiss daytime sleepiness and other symptoms as part of depression and PTSD, Orr explained. But these results argue for screening all military PTSD patients for sleep apnea, Orr said in an interview.
"You'll be darned if you just keep treating it with medications, cognitive behavioral therapy, and all the other modalities you use for PTSD, when you haven't addressed possible sleep apnea, which could get restorative sleep and kind of break the cycle for the PTSD symptoms," he told MedPage Today.
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