Hanna Henson – Abstract

Sleep apnoea in people with multiple sclerosis

Hensen, HA[1,2], Krishnan AV[3], Hoang PD[1], Menant JC[1], Lord SR[1], Gandevia SC[1], Eckert DJ[1]
1. Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA), Sydney , NSW, Australia
2. School of Medical Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, Australia
3. Prince of Wales Clinical School, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Background: Sleep apnoea (SA) is common in multiple sclerosis (MS). These disorders share several consequences including fatigue, daytime sleepiness and depression(1). Thus, it is important to understand potential links between SA and MS as their coexistence may increase morbidity. This study aims 1/ to define the prevalence of SA and key symptoms in an unselected MS cohort and 2/ to conduct detailed upper airway physiology studies to determine the pathophysiological causes of SA in MS.

Methods: Adults with confirmed MS and an expanded disability scale score (EDSS) between 2-6 were recruited for this sub-study as part of a larger RCT (ACTRN12616001053415). Several sleep and health-related questionnaires plus a home-based overnight sleep study were performed. Physiology studies involved upper airway reflex testing and overnight assessments of pharyngeal muscle activity.

Results: Thus far, data have been analysed in 88 (F=64) people for aim 1. 27% of females and 42% of males had SA (apnoea-hypopnoea index >5events/h). Participants with SA were significantly older (49±11vs 58±10years, p<0.01) and had higher BMI (25.6±6vs 26.9±6kg/m², p=0.035). EDSS, self-reported fatigue, daytime sleepiness and quality of life were not different in people with or without SA. Data for aim 2 are being collected (n=3).

Conclusions: Despite the female predominance, SA was common (30%) in this unselected MS cohort. Similar risk factors as in the general population (age, gender and BMI) seem to play a key role in the MS population. However, the MS population tends not to be obese suggesting that the causes of SA likely differ.

  1. Hensen HA, Krishnan AV, Eckert DJ. Sleep-Disordered Breathing in People with Multiple Sclerosis: Prevalence, Pathophysiological Mechanisms, and Disease Consequences. Frontiers in neurology. 2017;8:740.