Compliance with CPAP therapy in older men with obstructive sleep apnea

J Am Geriatr Soc. 2001 Sep;49(9):1205-11. doi: 10.1046/j.1532-5415.2001.49238.x.


Objectives: Factors specifically affecting compliance with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) in older patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) have not been described. The purpose of this study is to determine which factors are associated with compliance and noncompliance in older patients, a growing segment of the population.

Design: A retrospective chart review of older male patients prescribed CPAP therapy for OSA over an 8-year period.

Setting: Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

Participants: All patients age 65 and older for whom CPAP therapy had been prescribed for treatment of OSA in the past 8 years.

Measurements: Records of all older male patients prescribed CPAP therapy for OSA over the last 8 years were reviewed. Compliance was defined by time-counter readings averaging 5 or more hours of machine run-time per night.

Results: Of 33 older male patients with OSA studied, 20 were found to be compliant and 13 noncompliant with nasal CPAP therapy. The mean age (+/- SEM) at the time of diagnosis of OSA in the compliant group was 68 (+/-1) years, whereas that of the noncompliant group was 72 (+/-1) years (P <.05). Of the compliant patients, 95% attended a CPAP patient education and support group, whereas only 54% of noncompliant patients attended (P =.006). Resolution of initial symptoms of OSA with CPAP therapy was significantly associated with compliance. Symptom resolution occurred in 90% of compliant patients and in only 18% of noncompliant patients (P <.0002). Factors that were significantly associated with noncompliance with CPAP were cigarette smoking, nocturia, and benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH). Of noncompliant patients, 82% complained of nocturia, whereas only 33% of compliant patients complained of nocturia (P =.02). BPH was diagnosed in 62% of noncompliant patients and in only 15% of compliant patients (P =.004). Diuretic use was more common in the compliant group and, therefore, was not a cause of increased nocturia in noncompliant patients.

Conclusion: In older male patients with OSA, compliance with CPAP therapy is associated with attendance at a patient CPAP education and support group. Resolution of symptoms with therapy also appears to be associated with enhanced compliance. In addition, we found an association between nocturia and the existence of BPH in older men with OSA who are not compliant with nasal CPAP. Larger observational studies should be performed to confirm these findings, and, if so confirmed, then further studies to determine whether treatment of BPH in older men with OSA improves compliance with CPAP.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Patient Compliance*
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Positive-Pressure Respiration* / adverse effects
  • Prostatic Hyperplasia / complications
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Rhode Island
  • Risk Factors
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / complications
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / therapy*