Study Shows Quality of Life is Worse with PTSD and Sleep Apnea

According to new research, patients suffering from both post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) are far more likely to experience a lower quality of life, more exhaustion and sleepiness throughout the day, and they are less like to have successful responses to positive airway pressure (PAP) therapy.

A case-controlled study was conducted at the Sleep Disorders Center at the San Antonio Military Medical Center in Fort Sam Houston, TX. The study performed sleep studies on 200 military medical patients, who had previously been diagnosed with PTSD. The study found that over half were diagnosed with OSA. These patients were compared with 50 matched patients with OSA but not PTSD, and with another 50 patients without PTSD or OSA, as the control subjects.

This study showed that, compared with the other groups, patients with both PTSD and OSA had a far worse quality of life, including, but not limited to: more sleepiness, less adherence and response to treatment, and more exhaustion.

According to these results, doctors must be on the lookout when it comes to patients with PTSD. The study showed that patients with PTSD are also at high risk of having OSA and should be evaluated accordingly. These patients should be closely evaluated to consider response to PAP treatment.

The report (the full of which can be read on the CHEST website) reads:

“… We sought to determine the impact of OSA syndrome (OSAS) on symptoms and quality of life (QoL) among patients with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In addition, we assessed adherence and response to positive airway pressure (PAP) therapy in this population.

… This was a case-controlled observational cohort study at the Sleep Disorders Center of an academic military medical center. Two hundred consecutive patients with PTSD underwent sleep evaluations. Patients with PTSD with and without OSAS were compared with 50 consecutive age-matched patients with OSAS without PTSD and 50 age-matched normal control subjects. Polysomnographic data, sleep-related symptoms and QoL measures, and objective PAP usage were obtained.

… Among patients with PTSD, more than one-half (56.6%) received a diagnosis of OSAS. Patients with PTSD and OSAS had lower QoL and more somnolence compared with the other groups. Patients with PTSD demonstrated significantly lower adherence and response to PAP therapy. Resolution of sleepiness occurred in 82% of patients with OSAS alone, compared with 62.5% of PAP-adherent and 21.4% of nonadherent patients with PTSD and OSAS (P < .001). Similarly, posttreatment Functional Outcomes of Sleep Questionnaire ≥ 17.9 was achieved in 72% of patients with OSAS, compared with only 56.3% of patients with PTSD and OSA who were PAP adherent and 26.2% who were nonadherent (P < .03).

… In patients with PTSD, comorbid OSAS is associated with worsened symptoms, QoL, and adherence and response to PAP. Given the negative impact on outcomes, the possibility of OSAS should be considered carefully in patients with PTSD. Close follow-up is needed to optimize PAP adherence and efficacy in this at-risk population.”



Amberley Stephens has been a freelance writer since 2008. She graduated from the University of Arkansas in Little Rock, in May of 2013, with a B.A. in English Language and Literature and a minor in Creative Writing. She has since continued her work as a freelance writer.


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