Bethesda, Md. (Dec. 5, 2013)There are over a million people with spinal cord injuries (SCI) in the United States alone with an estimated 11,000 new cases every year. Furthermore, it is estimated that there are, at least, 100,000 veterans with SCI, making the VA the largest integrated health care system in the world for SCI care. But despite this large prevalence, researchers are still discovering all the various ways that SCI affect those with this condition beyond the obvious paralysis. For example, researchers have long known that SCI patients are significantly more likely than people without SCI to have conditions that cause disordered breathing during sleep. These include central sleep apnea, a serious condition in which patients' breathing stops periodically during sleep due to faulty signals from the brain. However, it's been unknown whether the level of injury has any correlation with the risk of sleep-disordered breathing.
To investigate this question, Abdulghani Sankari and his colleagues at John D. Dingell VA Medical Center-Wayne State University studied breathing during sleep in eight patients with thoracic SCIs, which paralyzed their legs, and eight patients with cervical SCI, which paralyzed their torsos and all four limbs. They found that those subjects with cervical SCI were significantly more likely to have sleep-disordered breathing during sleep or be susceptible to factors that trigger it. These findings suggest that patients who are paralyzed from the neck downor quadriplegicshave a heightened risk of central sleep apnea.
The article is entitled "Tetraplegia is a Risk Factor for Central Sleep Apnea." It appears in the Articles in PresS section of the Journal of Applied Physiology, published by the American Physiological Society. The article is available online at http://bit.ly/191M7Hf.
The researchers studied 16 patients with SCI. Ei
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American Physiological Society