Older Age is Associated With Positional Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Untreated obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is associated with cognitive dysfunction; however studies report low adherence rates to standard continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment in the elderly. Positional OSA (p-OSA) is a subset that can be cured by positional therapy of avoiding supine sleep. However, there is no well-established criteria to identify patients who could benefit from positional therapy as an alternative or adjunct to CPAP. This study investigates if older age is related to p-OSA using different diagnostic criteria. Cross-sectional study. Participants aged 18 years old or more who underwent polysomnography for clinical reasons at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics over a 1-year period from July 2011 to June 2012 were enrolled retrospectively. P-OSA was defined as a high supine-position dependency of obstructive breathing events with potential resolution of OSA in nonsupine positions [high apnea-hypopnea index on supine positions (s-AHI)/ AHI on nonsupine positions (ns0AHI) combined with ns-AHI < 5/hour]. Different cutoff points (2, 3, 5, 10, 15, 20) were applied to determine a meaningful ratio of supine-position dependency of obstructions [s-AHI/ns-AHI]. We compared the proportion of patients with p-OSA between the older age group (≥65 years old) and the propensity score (PS)-matched (upto 1:4) younger age group (<65 years old) using logistic regression analyses. In total, 346 participants were included. The older age group had a higher s-AHI/ns-AHI ratio than the younger age group (mean 31.6 [SD 66.2] versus 9.3 [SD 17.4], median 7.3 [interquartile range [IQR], 3.0-29.6) versus 4.1 (IQR, 1.9-8.7). After PS-matching, the older age group (n = 44) had higher proportion of those with a high s-AHI/ns-AHI ratio and ns-AHI< 5/hour compared with the younger age group (n = 164). (s-AHI/ns-AHI≥10: 54.6% versus 31.7%, OR 2.44 (95% CI, 1.22-4.90); s-AHI/ns-AHI≥15: 47.7% versus 26.2%, OR 2.24 (95% CI, 1.14-4.37); s-AHI/ns-AHI≥20: 40.9% versus 19.5%, OR 2.52 (95% CI, 1.22-5.20)) CONCLUSION: Older patients with OSA are more likely to have severe position dependent OSA, that is potentially more treatable with positional therapy. Thus, clinicians treating older, cognitively impaired geriatric patients unable to tolerate CPAP therapy should consider positional therapy as an adjunct or alternative.

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