People With Epilepsy May Gain From Common Sleep Apnea Treatment

From Drugs.com - December 2, 2017

People With Epilepsy May Gain From Common Sleep Apnea Treatment

SATURDAY, Dec. 2, 2017 -- It's been used by many people to help ease sleep apnea, but new research suggests the CPAP mask may also help ease seizures in people with epilepsy.

CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) involves wearing an airflow mask over the nose or mouth each night, to help keep the back of the throat open for better breathing.

Many people with epilepsy often have sleep apnea, the researchers said. In fact, of the 197 patients enrolled in the new study, only 75 did not have sleep apnea.

Poor sleep is also a known risk factor for increased seizure frequency, the research team added.

"Sleep apnea is common in people with epilepsy, but few physicians screen for it," explained lead investigator Dr. Thapanee Somboon, a research fellow at the Cleveland Clinic's Sleep Disorders Center.

"All patients with epilepsy should be checked for sleep disorders, including insomnia and sleep apnea, because there are effective treatments," Somboon said in a news release from the American Epilepsy Society.

His team was to present its findings Saturday at the society's annual meeting, in Washington, D.C.

Among the 122 patients who had both epilepsy and sleep apnea, 73 used the CPAP device each night, while 49 did not.

After about a year, more than 60 percent of the CPAP-treated patients saw a 50 percent or greater drop in seizures, compared with their pre-CPAP days. This compared with just a 14 percent drop for those not using CPAP, the investigators said.

Also, by a number of measures, the team found that 85 percent of those undergoing CPAP experienced a "successful" measure of seizure control, compared with just 55 percent of those who did not.


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