MONDAY, March 8, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Many people with sleep apnea may be misdiagnosed with hypertension, says a Spanish study in the March issue of the journal Chest.
Researchers at La Paz University Hospital in Madrid found that a third of people with sleep apnea who doctors had diagnosed with hypertension actually had a condition called white coat hypertension (WCH). People with WCH experience increased blood pressure during a visit to a doctor's office but have normal blood pressure at all other times.
The study also found that people with sleep apnea and WCH had a more difficult time falling asleep. They also had longer periods of wakefulness after initially falling asleep than people with sleep apnea and normal or sustained high blood pressure.
"Although the relationship between hypertension and sleep apnea is well established, our results suggest that the occurrence of WCH could lead to overdiagnosis of hypertension among patients with sleep apnea, thereby leading to potentially flawed conclusions regarding the causative association of hypertension and sleep apnea," lead researcher Francisco Garcia-Rio says in a prepared statement.
The Journal of the American Medical Association offers more about sleep apnea.