Sleep abnormalities and treatment in emphysema

Proc Am Thorac Soc. 2008 May 1;5(4):536-42. doi: 10.1513/pats.200708-134ET.


Sleep abnormalities are common in severe emphysema, and include poor sleep quality, the development of nocturnal oxygen desaturation, and the presence of coexistent obstructive sleep apnea. With lower baseline oxygenation and abnormal respiratory mechanics in patients with severe emphysema, alterations in ventilatory control and respiratory muscle function that normally occur during sleep can have profound effects, and contribute to the development of sleep abnormalities. The impact on quality of life, cardiopulmonary hemodynamics, and overall survival remains uncertain. In addition, treatment for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and its effect on sleep abnormalities have demonstrated conflicting results. More recently, as part of the National Emphysema Treatment Trial, lung volume reduction surgery has been shown to improve both sleep quality and nocturnal oxygenation in emphysema. Although indications for performing an overnight polysomnogram in patients with emphysema have been debated, recommendations have been presented. Future studies investigating disease mechanism and response to therapy in patients with sleep abnormalities and severe emphysema are warranted.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bronchodilator Agents / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Oxygen Inhalation Therapy
  • Polysomnography
  • Positive-Pressure Respiration
  • Pulmonary Emphysema / complications*
  • Pulmonary Emphysema / physiopathology
  • Respiratory Muscles / physiology
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / diagnosis
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / etiology*
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / physiopathology
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / therapy*


  • Bronchodilator Agents