Breathing disorders during sleep are common among asthmatics, may help predict severe asthma

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- When asthmatics are awake, they can turn to their inhalers to open their airways. But when they sleep, many of them continue to struggle with breathing and an understanding of their sleep-related problems may help doctors better diagnose and treat their patients' asthma, according to new University of Michigan Health System research.

Symptoms of sleep apnea and other breathing problems during sleep are common among people with asthma, according to the research, which is being presented today at the American Thoracic Society's 2005 International Conference in San Diego.

Given this preliminary finding from an ongoing study, researchers say doctors should examine their asthma patients' sleep patterns more often, especially when the patients continue to have trouble even with regular use of inhalers and other common asthma treatments.

"The more you look for sleep apnea in patients with asthma, the more you find it," says William F. Bria II, M.D., medical co-director of the UMHS Asthma Airways Program and associate professor of internal medicine in the U-M Medical School.

"This tells us that a lot more people with asthma need to have sleep studies," Bria says. "When patients are having problems with asthma, their doctors need to look at more than whether they are taking enough puffs from their inhalers."

Researchers examined the connection between sleep-related breathing disorders by giving questionnaires to patients with asthma. Of the 115 subjects included in the study so far, most were in one of the most severe stages of asthma.

Most participants were being treated for asthma with inhalers and other medications, but they were still symptomatic, says Mihaela Teodorescu, M.D., a pulmonary medicine specialist, research fellow in sleep medicine and a lecturer at UMHS, who is presenting the findings at the ATS meeting and who is leading the study.

Large percentages of the people included in the st

Contact: Katie Gazella
University of Michigan Health System

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