Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is common in patients with epilepsy (PWE), and treatment may improve seizure control. However, OSA is often undiagnosed in PWE, and understanding of the risk profile for OSA is important. In this study, we sought to determine if OSA risk is similar in patients with generalized versus focal epilepsy.
We recruited 115 patients presenting to the Rutgers-Robert Wood Johnson Epilepsy Clinic with focal or generalized epilepsy. Obstructive sleep apnea risk was assessed using the Sleep Apnea Scale of the Sleep Disorders Questionnaire (SA-SDQ). Sleepiness was assessed using the Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS). Demographic and clinical information was gathered from the electronic medical record. Unadjusted and adjusted analyses were carried out to assess differences in the SA-SDQ between patients with generalized versus focal epilepsy. Further analyses were done to assess the relationship between seizure frequency, epilepsy type, and the SA-SDQ.
Unadjusted mean SA-SDQ scores, as well as scores high enough to represent likely OSA, were similar in patients with generalized versus focal epilepsy. However, in adjusted analyses, patients with generalized epilepsy had a significantly higher mean SA-SDQ score. Older age, higher body mass index (BMI), and a history of hypertension (HTN) were also associated with higher SA-SDQ scores. Sleep Apnea Scale of the Sleep Disorders Questionnaire scores were not significantly affected by the presence of a seizure within the prior one month or six months. Average ESS scores and the percentage of scores consistent with an abnormal degree of sleepiness were statistically similar in patients with generalized versus focal epilepsy.
Our study suggests that patients with generalized epilepsy have a higher risk of OSA. Further studies measuring OSA directly as well as assessing potential benefits of treatment are needed.
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