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Generalized Epilepsy Tied to Higher Sleep Apnea Risk

No differences found between focal, generalized epilepsy for excessive daytime sleepiness

man sleeping

TUESDAY, Sept. 29, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with generalized epilepsy have a higher risk for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), according to a study published in the October issue of Epilepsy & Behavior.

Matthew T. Scharf, M.D., from Rutgers-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and colleagues recruited 115 patients presenting to the clinic with focal or generalized epilepsy. OSA risk was compared for patients with focal versus generalized epilepsy using data from electronic medical records.

The researchers found that unadjusted mean Sleep Apnea Scale of the Sleep Disorders Questionnaire (SA-SDQ) scores, as well as scores high enough to represent likely OSA, were similar in patients with generalized versus focal epilepsy. However, patients with generalized epilepsy had a significantly higher mean SA-SDQ score in adjusted analyses. There was an association noted between higher SA-SDQ scores and older age, higher body mass index, and a history of hypertension. The presence of a seizure within the previous one month or six months did not significantly affect SA-SDQ scores. Additionally, average Epworth Sleepiness Scale scores and the percentage of scores consistent with an abnormal degree of sleepiness were statistically similar between the two types of epilepsy.

"Treatment of OSA may be an important part of treatment of epilepsy, and identification of which people with epilepsy are most at risk for OSA and which are most likely to benefit from OSA treatment is important," the authors write.

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