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Obstructive Sleep Apnea Patients Experience High Prevalance Of Parasomnia Symptoms

According to a research, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) patients experience increased prevalance of parasomnia symptoms compared with the prevalence rates of individual parasomnias.

The results showed that 9.5% of the OSA patients had chances of parasomnia symptoms, compared to the 2.9 to 4 percent prevalence of parasomnias in adults older than 15 years of age without OSA. An improvement of parasomnia symptoms with use of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy was seen in 20 percent of the participants.

The lead author Maria Viola-Saltzman, DO, at the University of Washington in Seattle reported that OSA is known to cause sleep fragmentation, which predisposes patients to the expression of parasomnia symptoms.

We found it interesting that the parasomnia symptoms reported in this patient population were amongst all age groups, as parasomnias are most common in children and young adults, said Viola-Saltzman.

The study at Loyola University Medical Center in Chicago was based on retrospective chart reviews of 537 new patient referrals for evaluation of OSA. Patients less than 18 years of age had a polysomnogram diagnostic of OSA and documentation of the presence or absence of parasomnia symptoms.

Fifty-one patients (59 percent women, 84 percent of non-Hispanic origin and average age of 47 years) had one or more types of parasomnia complaints. Twenty-one people (38 percent) showed sleep paralysis, 16 (29 percent) had sleep-related hallucinations, five (9 percent) reported sleepwalking, 11 (20 percent) reported acting-out dreams (suggesting REM sleep behavior disorder), one person reported sleep-related eating and one person felt a pulling down sensation on her spine at sleep onset.