Monday, August 22, 2011

Pregnancy, High Blood Pressure, and Sleep-Disordered Breathing

Pregnant women snore more and have more nasal congestion than non-pregnant women. And pregant women with high blood pressure (a.k.a. gestational HTN) or pre-eclampsia (a.k.a. gestational HTN with protein in the urine) have even more snoring and nasal congestion. Some studies have suggested that women with getstational HTN or pre-eclampsia have a high prevalence of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

In this month's Sleep Journal , there is an article about pregnant women with gestational HTN and OSA. Study participants were at least 18 years old during their first and only pregnancy and had gestational HTN or pre-eclampsia. Controls were matched for gestational age and had no high blood pressure or protein in the urine. Results showed that women with gestational HTN were more obese than controls. There was a higher frequnecy of self-reported regular snoring and nasal congestion in women with gestational HTN vs controls. The women with gestational HTN also reported lower sleep quality but there was no difference in daytime sleepiness between the two groups. Sleep studies showed that women with gestational HTN had less total sleep time, lower sleep efficiency, and a lower percentage of REM sleep than the controls. Finally, 50% of women with gestational HTN had OSA compared to 12% of pregnant women without gestational HTN.

The authors point out that the higher OSA frequency in the women with gestational HTN could be due to the higher obesity rates, as OSA and obesity go hand-in-hand. But these findings are important because even mild OSA can affect blood pressure in non-pregnant patients. And recent data have shown that short-term relief of mild OSA with CPAP can improve blood pressure in pre-eclamptic patients. Therefore, it is important to screen pregnant women with gestation HTN for snoring, sleep quality, and OSA.

1 comment:

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