Background: Obstructive sleep apnoea has been demonstrated to induce gastrooesophageal reflux through highly negative intrathoracic pressure during the attacks. However, we believe that gastrooesophageal reflux on its part may favour or aggravate the apnoea attacks.
Aims: We investigated whether the treatment of gastrooesophageal reflux with omeprazole is able to decrease apnoea attacks.
Patients and methods: Twenty patients (mean age 55.4 years, range 49-73 years; 17 males) with confirmed obstructive sleep apnoea at overnight polysomnography and pathological gastrooesophageal reflux at ambulatory 24-h oesophageal pHmetry were asked to note in a diary the occurrence of apnoea attacks for a basal period of 4 weeks. Subsequently, the patients were randomly and in a double-blind manner treated with omeprazole 20mg (10 patients, group A) or placebo (10 patients, group B) by giving 1 cp 30 min before breakfast and 1 cp 30 min before dinner for another 6 weeks with a diary documentation. The results were averaged weekly and over the entire treatment duration and a statistical comparison was made between the groups and within each group before and after treatment.
Results: The mean weekly frequency of apnoea attacks of group A during the entire period of treatment with omeprazole was significantly decreased with respect to the basal period and was significantly lower than that of group B. The weekly frequency of apnoea attacks in group A started to be significantly lower from the third week than the corresponding values of both group B and the basal period, reaching a decrease of about 73% in the sixth week.
Conclusion: The occurrence of apnoea attacks progressively decreased during the treatment of gastrooesophageal reflux with omeprazole. This fact suggests that gastrooesophageal reflux may play a role in triggering and/or worsening obstructive sleep apnoea.