J Rheumatol 2009 Sep 31;36(9):1869-72. Epub 2009 Jul 31.
Department of Health Sciences Research, Division of Epidemiology, Mayo Foundation, Rochester, MN 55905, USA.
Objective: Patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) have an increased risk for developing cardiovascular disease (CVD) compared to subjects in the general population. The development of CVD has also been linked to chronic sleep apnea. The purpose of this study was to examine the risk for sleep apnea in patients with RA compared to subjects without RA.
Methods: We recruited RA patients and non-RA subjects who were age and sex matched from the same population. These persons completed the Berlin Sleep Questionnaire, which evaluated their level of risk (high or low) for sleep apnea. In addition, there were 3 subscales evaluating snoring, fatigue, and relevant comorbidities [i.e., high blood pressure and obesity [body mass index (BMI) > or = 30 kg/m(2))]. Chi-squared tests were used for comparisons.
Results: The study population consisted of 164 patients with RA and 328 patients without RA. Age, sex and BMI were similar for both groups. There was no difference in snoring (p = 0.31) or in the comorbidities subscale (p = 0.37). However, RA patients reported more fatigue (38%) than subjects without RA (13%; p < 0.001). Overall, the risk for sleep apnea was significantly higher for the RA patients (50%) than the non-RA subjects (31%; p < 0.001).
Conclusion: Patients with RA may be at a higher risk for sleep apnea compared to non-RA subjects. This apparent risk difference may be attributed to reports of fatigue in RA patients, which may be associated with sleep apnea or RA disease itself.