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Sleep Apnea and Associated Diseases

Author: Shelley Ensz. Scleroderma is highly variable. See Types of Scleroderma. Read Disclaimer
Overview of Sleep Apnea?
Sleep Apnea and Autoimmune Diseases
Patient Stories


Sleep apnea causes people to frequently stop breathing during sleep. The episodes can last for several seconds or longer. It results in unrefreshing sleep which can cause daytime sleepiness and fatigue. It is associated with many diseases, including high blood pressure, obesity, and heart problems. It is diagnosed with sleep laboratory studies, and typically treated with a CPAP machine, however other methods may include surgery, oxygen, medications, and throat exercises.
Systemic sclerosis (scleroderma) is associated with several types of sleep disruptions, including restless leg syndrome) but there is not an increased prevalence of sleep apnea in scleroderma patients. (Also see: What is Scleroderma?)
Sleep Apnea People with untreated sleep apnea stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, sometimes hundreds of times during the night and often for a minute or longer. American Sleep Apnea Association

Sleep Apnea and Autoimmune Diseases

Scleroderma can cause significant sleep disturbances, including disruption of sleep due to restless leg syndrome, heartburn, shortness of breath, and joint and muscle pain. However, there is not an increased incidence of sleep apnea in scleroderma patients.
Excessive Daytime Sleepiness (EDS) and Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) in Patients With Sarcoidosis. Sleepiness may contribute to the morbidity of sarcoidosis which is independently associated with EDS and should be followed even after treating for potentially coexisting OSA or depression. Chest Journal, June 2013, Vol 143, No. 6. (Also see: Sarcoidosis)
Study examines sleep apnea's role in lung diseases. The IPF Clinical Trials Center is now recruiting patients with other interstitial lung diseases to see if treating sleep disordered breathing improves their quality of life or survival rates. Vanderbilt University Medical Center (Tennessee). 04/12/12. (Also see: Pulmonary Fibrosis Research)
Sleep disruption in systemic sclerosis (scleroderma) patients: clinical and polysomnographic findings. Patients with SSc have significant disturbance of their sleep. Esophageal dyskinesia and dyspnea, which are common complications of SSc, were commonly associated with indices of sleep disruption. RLS (restless legs syndrome) but not sleep apnea appears to have an increased prevalence in SSc. Sleep Med. (Also see: Restless Leg Syndrome, Esophageal Involvement, and Lung Involvement)

Complications of Sleep Apnea

Sleep Apnea Tied to Increased Cancer Risk. Two new studies have found that people with sleep apnea, a common disorder that causes snoring, fatigue and dangerous pauses in breathing at night, have a higher risk of cancer. NY Times. 05/20/12.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and cardiovascular disease. Common OSA associated/induced cardiovascular disorders include coronary artery disease, heart failure, hypertension, cardiac arrhythmias and stroke. Endothelial dysfunction, coagulopathy, impaired sympathetic drive, oxidative and inflammatory stress are the pathophysiological pathways suggested for the development of cardiovascular disease in OSA. Mehmood Butt. International Journal of Cardiology, 18 February 2010.
Vascular Inflammation in Obesity and Sleep Apnea. Untreated obstructive sleep apnea rather than obesity is a major determinant of vascular endothelial dysfunction, inflammation, and elevated oxidative stress in obese patients. Sanja Jelic MD. Circulation. February 16, 2010 (Also see: Oxidative Stress)

Diagnosis of Sleep Apnea

Obstructive Sleep Apnea. An overnight sleep study, or polysomnography, is required to diagnose OSA. Medscape.

Sleep Disturbance and Illness

Sleep Disturbance and Illness. With the onset of chronic illness, a good night's sleep is often the first thing to go. Sometimes poor sleep is a precursor to illness, and other times it is a result. ISN.
Overview of Sleep Disorders and Illness
Suggestions for Better Sleep
Sleep Disorders and Genetics
Sleep Spindles
Immune System and Circadian Clocks
Infections and Sleep
Inflammation and Sleep
Sleep Apnea


Compression stockings may ease sleep apnea. Wearing compression stockings during the day may slightly improve sleep apnea at night, a small study suggests. Reuters Health, 01/09/2015.
Sleep Apnea Treatments and Drugs. For milder cases of sleep apnea, your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes, such as losing weight or quitting smoking. If these measures don't improve your signs and symptoms or if your apnea is moderate to severe, a number of other treatments are available. Certain devices can help open up a blocked airway. In other cases, surgery may be necessary. Mayo Clinic.

Sleep Apnea Patient Stories

Sherry: Fibromyalgia, Hypothyroidism and Raynaud's He said Fibromyalgia is just pain, and if I could not handle my job, I should quit...
William M: Scleroderma or Lupus I had to give up my career of being a registered nurse (RN) over two years ago due to total disability...
Go to Sleep Disturbance Personal Stories

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