Bad chemistry may brew sleep apnea

Sunday, July 13, 2003

July 14, 2003

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Add chemical imbalances in the brain as another possible cause of sleep disordered breathing.

In two new papers, published in the July 8 issue of the journal Neurology, researchers found connections between 13 patients with multiple system atrophy (MSA), a rare and fatal neurological disorder, and sleep apnea.

In those patients, a lack of brain cells that produce the key chemicals of dopamine and acetylcholine was linked to more thrashing, talking and flailing in sleep and to more interruptions in breathing. Researchers say their findings to date show correlation, not cause.

Researchers at the University of Michigan, where the studies were conducted, say their findings are the first to link sleep apnea and chemical deficiencies in the brain. In recent years, sleep disordered breathing has also been linked to hypertension, stroke and obesity.

NCPA represents almost half the 25,000 independent pharmacists in the United States.