Purpose: We performed this study in order to expand on an earlier report indicating a high prevalence of the sleep apnea syndrome in male patients with end-stage renal disease treated with hemodialysis and to determine whether patients with chronic renal insufficiency (prior to the initiation of therapy for end-stage renal disease) and female patients with end-stage renal disease treated with hemodialysis were affected.
Patients and methods: Polysomnography was performed in 26 male and female patients with chronic renal insufficiency and end-stage renal disease treated with hemodialysis who were not receiving testosterone. They included 22 whose histories were suggestive of sleep apnea ("symptomatic") and four whose histories were not ("asymptomatic").
Results: Sixteen of the symptomatic (73 percent) and none of the asymptomatic patients were found to have clinically significant sleep apnea syndrome (p less than 0.02). Both female patients and patients with chronic renal insufficiency had sleep apnea. In nine of these 16 cases, the disorder was primarily of the obstructive type.
Conclusion: These preliminary data raise the possibility of an association of chronic renal disease and the sleep apnea syndrome, and suggest that some of the daytime sleepiness and disturbed nocturnal sleep in such patients may be related to sleep apnea. They also indicate that questioning patients with chronic renal disease and symptoms suggestive of a sleep disorder is useful in determining who are at high risk for the sleep apnea syndrome. Further study is required to establish a causal relationship between chronic renal disease and the sleep apnea syndrome, and to determine the prevalence of the latter in patients with end-stage renal disease.