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Sleep apnoea more common in asthma patients, suggests study

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Asthma patients have an increased risk of developing obstructive sleep apnoea, with the link stronger with having had asthma longer, according to a US study.

Although a few studies have suggested an association between the two, it has previously been unknown whether asthma is a causal risk factor for obstructive sleep apnoea, said researchers.

A team from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health examined the relationship between asthma and new cases of obstructive sleep apnoea in an ongoing study of 30-60 years olds.  

The authors found 22 out of 81 participants (27%) with asthma developed obstructive sleep apnoea over the first four-years of the study, compared to 75 of 466 people (16%) without asthma.

“This study… found that pre-existent asthma was a risk factor for the development of clinically relevant obstructive sleep apnoea in adulthood over a four-year period,” they said.

“Furthermore, the association was significantly dose-dependent on duration of asthma,” said the authors in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

They added: “Studies investigating the mechanisms underlying this association and the value of periodic obstructive sleep apnoea evaluation in patients with asthma are warranted.”

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