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Uncontrolled seizures and sleep apnea

16 Oct 2000

Healthscout have reported on a new finding by researchers at Michigan University, that patients with uncontrolled epilepsy may also have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

 The research is in the latest issue of the journal Neurology .

Obstructive sleep apnea causes interruptions of breathing during sleep. In a study of 39 people who have seizures that don’t respond to treatment, 13 of them have severe OSA, with another 13 having a moderate OSA. Dr Beth Malow, author of the study says,

“Sleep deprivation irritates the brain and make s the brain more excitable. Anything that fragments or disrupts sleep, and makes sleep deprivation occur can cause that irritability and that increased likelihood that you’d have a seizure.” She goes on to explain why people with epilepsy may have more sleep apnea,

“There are several theories. One is that drugs that we’re using to treat their epilepsy might affect breathing. We know that certain types of drugs cause weight gain, and weight gain is associated with apnea. “

Malow’s team are now going to follow up the study by seeing if treating the patients apnea causes a reduction in seizures.