A study looking at veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has shown that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) puts veterans at increased risk for sleep apnea. The study also showed that there was a correlation between the severity of their PTSD and their sleep apnea risk.
A Surprisingly At-Risk Population
Doctors who work with veterans have long noted that PTSD patients seemed to be at risk for sleep apnea. For this study, a researcher decided to determine just how strong the relationship was. The study was also trying to determine how some of the factors that contribute to sleep apnea risk are also independently affected by PTSD. The subjects for this study were 195 veterans with an average age of 33 years. The level of their PTSD was assessed with the PTSD Checklist Stressor Specific Version questionnaire. Unfortunately, sleep apnea was not evaluated using a sleep test. Instead, the Berlin Questionnaire was used to gauge sleep apnea risk.
More than 69% of PTSD patients were at a high risk for sleep apnea. The level of risk tended to increase as their PTSD worsened. Every clinically significant increase in PTSD led to a 40% increase in sleep apnea risk.
What is interesting about this study is that it showed that many of the veterans didn’t have the classic risk factors for sleep apnea (such as obesity and increased age).
A Vital Link
It’s important for those with PTSD to get treatment for sleep apnea, because sleep apnea can be associated with an increase in PTSD severity, can interfere with treatment, and has other serious mental health consequences.
It has been shown that veterans with PTSD are at higher risk for dementia. We also know that sleep apnea is linked with dementia risk. Perhaps sleep apnea is the crucial link here, and sleep apnea treatment can help protect our veterans from this risk.
To help veterans achieve the rejuvenating sleep they need, sleep apnea screening should be part of PTSD treatment.
If you are a veteran or someone else who believes that sleep apnea may be affecting your rest, please call (610) 272-0828 for an appointment with a Philadelphia sleep dentist at Dental Excellence of Blue Bell today.