Epilepsy and sleep apnea syndrome

Neurology. 1994 Nov;44(11):2060-4. doi: 10.1212/wnl.44.11.2060.


We identified seven patients with refractory partial epilepsy and sleep apnea. Treatment of the sleep apnea with nasal continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), protriptyline, trazodone, acetazolamide, or tracheostomy reduced seizure frequency and severity in six patients. Success with CPAP depended largely on compliance. Four of five patients had a clear reduction in seizure frequency with the use of CPAP. Sleep apnea may exacerbate epilepsy by causing sleep disruption and deprivation, hypoxemia, and decreased cerebral blood flow. In epilepsy patients with risk factors (eg, obesity) or markers (eg, habitual snoring, daytime somnolence) for sleep apnea, a careful sleep history should be elicited and a polysomnogram obtained when indicated. Treatment of the sleep disorder can improve seizure control.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Cardiac Output
  • Epilepsy / etiology*
  • Female
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Positive-Pressure Respiration
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / complications*
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / physiopathology
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / therapy
  • Sleep Deprivation
  • Sleep Stages