Rationale: When obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) coexist in the so-called "overlap" syndrome, a high risk for mortality and morbidity has been reported. There is controversy about the prevalence of OSA in people affected by COPD.
Objectives: The purpose of this study was to investigate objective meaures of sleep-disordered breathing in patients with moderate to severe COPD to test the hypothesis that COPD is associated with an increased prevalence of OSA.
Methods: Fifty-four patients (54% men) with moderate to severe COPD were enrolled prospectively (mean ± SD, FEV1 = 42.8 ± 19.8% predicted, and FEV1/FVC = 42.3 ± 13.1). Twenty patients (37%) were on supplemental oxygen at baseline. Exercise tolerance; questionnaires related to symptoms, sleep, and quality of life; and home polysomnography were obtained.
Measurements and main results: Forty-four patients had full polysomnography suitable for analysis. OSA (apnea-hypopnea index > 5/h) was present in 29 subjects (65.9%). Sleep efficiency was poor in 45% of subjects.
Conclusions: OSA is highly prevalent in patients with moderate to severe COPD referred to pulmonary rehabilitation. Sleep quality is also poor among this selected group. These patients have greater-than-expected sleep-disordered breathing, which could be an important contributory factor to morbidity and mortality. Pulmonary rehabilitation programs should consider including a sleep assessment in patients with moderate to severe COPD and interventions when indicated to help reduce the impact of OSA in COPD.
Keywords: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; obstructive sleep apnea; overlap; pulmonary rehabilitation; sleep-disordered breathing.