Characteristics of refractory vs. medically controlled epilepsy patients with obstructive sleep apnea and their response to CPAP treatment

Ping Li, Saied Ghadersohi, Behrouz Jafari, Barbara Teter, Mona Sazgar*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) commonly coexists with epilepsy, and treatment of OSA may decrease seizure frequency. However, it is unclear whether patients with medically refractory epilepsy have a higher incidence of OSA compared with well-controlled epilepsy patients and whether the two groups carry different risk factors. Purpose: This study aimed to investigate the presence of OSA in patients with refractory vs. well-controlled epilepsy and their associated risk factors. We also assessed the benefits of treatment of OSA with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) in refractory epilepsy patients. Methods: We retrospectively reviewed data from patients who presented to the Jacobs Neurological Institute Comprehensive Epilepsy Center of University at Buffalo from 2007 to 2010. Results: There is a tendency for much higher incidence of OSA in our epilepsy population compared with the general population (15.2% vs. 4.41%). For patients with well-controlled epilepsy, older age, male gender, and higher seizure frequency were predictors of a diagnosis of OSA. However, in medically refractory epilepsy patients, diabetes and snoring predicted a diagnosis of OSA. Treatment of OSA with CPAP in refractory epilepsy patients improved their seizure control (p < 0.02). Conclusion: This study confirms that OSA is common in epilepsy patients and treatment of OSA can improve seizure control in medically refractory cases. Patients with refractory epilepsy who have diabetes are more likely to have OSA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)717-721
Number of pages5
Issue number9
StatePublished - Nov 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • CPAP
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Refractory epilepsy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology

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