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Common sleep disorder combos may be fatal

Adelaide : A study has found that people suffering from both insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea are more likely to suffer from heart problems and are almost 50 per cent more likely to die than those without either condition.

The research has been published in the ‘European Respiratory Journal’.
“Insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea are the two most common sleep disorders, affecting 10 to 30 per cent of the population, but people can often suffer from both at the same time,” said Dr Bastien Lechat from Flinders Health and Medical Research Institute: Sleep Health.

“Previously, little was known about the impact of co-morbid insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea (COMISA) but what we did know is that for people with both conditions, health outcomes are consistently worse than those with neither condition nor those with either condition alone,” Lechat added.

Now Flinders University researchers have studied a large US-based dataset of over 5,000 people to understand the risks of COMISA.

The participants, aged around 60 years of age at the beginning of the study and 52 per cent female, were followed for approximately 15 years, with 1,210 people dying during that time.

The results suggested that participants with COMISA were two times more likely to have high blood pressure and 70 per cent more likely to have cardiovascular disease than participants with neither insomnia nor sleep apnea.

The study also showed participants with COMISA had a 47 per cent increased risk of dying (for any reason) compared to participants with no insomnia or sleep apnea, even when other factors known to increase mortality were taken into account.

“This is the first study to assess mortality risk in participants with co-morbid insomnia and sleep apnea,” said Dr Lechat, who led the research.

“Given that these people are at higher risk of experiencing adverse health outcomes, it is important that people undergoing screening for one disorder should also be screened for the other,” Lechat added.