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Free Content Periodic limb movements and obstructive sleep apneas before and after continuous positive airway pressure treatment

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Periodic limb movements during sleep (PLMS) and obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) are two common sleep disorders. The similarity in periodicity of periodic limb movements (PLMs) and obstructive sleep apneas (OSAs) led us to hypothesize the existence of a common central generator responsible for the periodicity of both OSAs and PLMs.

In order to test this hypothesis, we compared apnea periodicity before continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment with PLMs periodicity during CPAP treatment in 26 OSA patients, consecutively recorded and treated in our sleep laboratory. The investigation on CPAP was performed twice, once during the initial evaluation and once during a follow-up evaluation after 3 months of home treatment with CPAP.

Our results showed that, in this sample, 16 patients out of 26 had an association of OSAS and PLMS, defined as the occurrence of at least 5 PLMs per hour of sleep.

The mean apnea interval – measured as the time between the beginning of two successive apneas – was 43.1 s (±15.2, SD) and the mean PLM interval – calculated in the same way – was 29.6 s (±15.2) during the baseline night, 28.5 s (±15.7) during the first CPAP night, and 29.8 s (±14.8) during the second CPAP night. Thus, the periodicity of the two phenomena (apneas and PLMs) was different, both before and after CPAP treatment (P< 0.05).

When considering the interval between the end of an event (apnea or PLM) and the beginning of the next one the mean apnea interval was 19.5 s (±11.6), and the mean PLM interval was 28.1 s (±15.3) during the untreated night, 26.6 s (±16) during the first CPAP night and 27.9 s (±15) during the second CPAP night. The shortening of apnea intervals with this method of measuring intervals reflects the longer duration of apneas as compared to PLMs. Again the intervals between PLMs were not different between each other but the intervals between apneas were different from the intervals between PLMs (P< 0.05)

These results show that the periodicity of PLMs is different from that of OSAs, suggesting that sleep apneas and PLMs are not generated by a common central generator.
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Keywords: continuous positive airway pressure; obstructive sleep apnea; periodic limb movements; polysomnographic recording

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: FORENAP (Institute for Research in Neurosciences and Neuropsychiatry), Secteur 8, CH Rouffach, 68250 Rouffach, France 2: University Hospital, 67091 Strasbourg, France

Publication date: 1999-09-01

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