People with spinal cord injuries should be assessed for sleep
apnoea, researchers suggest.
In a study that looked at 26 people with cervical (neck) and thoracic (upper
cord injuries, investigators found that 77 % of them had breathing problems
during sleep and 92% had poor sleep quality.
The nature of the breathing problems experienced by these patients during
sleep is complex, and many of them had both obstructive and central sleep apnoea.
sleep apnoea causes the airway to collapse or become blocked during sleep,
while in central sleep apnoea, the brain fails to send the proper signals to
the muscles that control
Central sleep apnoea was more common in patients with cervical spinal
injuries than in those with thoracic spinal injuries, according to the study
published recently in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.
Potential targets for new treatment
"The majority of spinal cord injury survivors have symptomatic
sleep-disordered breathing and poor
sleep that may be missed if not carefully assessed," lead author Dr
Abdulghani Sankari, physician scientist at John D. Dingell VA Medical Centre
and Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit, said in a journal
"Our findings help in identifying the mechanism of sleep-disordered
breathing in spinal cord injury and may provide potential targets for new
treatment," he added.
Breathing problems during sleep may increase spinal cord injury patients'
risk of cardiovascular death, noted study co-author Dr M. Safwan Badr, the
president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
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"All spinal cord injury patients should undergo a comprehensive sleep
evaluation using full, overnight polysomnography for the accurate diagnosis of
sleep apnoea," Badr said in the news release.
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