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Periodic breathing during sleep in patients affected by fibromyalgia (FM) syndrome

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www.ProHealth.com • July 10, 1999


Seventeen patients affected by fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) (16 females and one male) and 17 matched healthy subjects underwent formal polysomnography, a sleep questionnaire and lung function tests. FMS patients slept significantly less efficiently than the healthy controls (p<0.01), had a higher proportion of stage 1 sleep (mean+/-SD, 21+/-6% versus 11+/-4%; p<0.001), less slow wave sleep (p<0.01) and twice as many arousals per hour of sleep (p<0.001). The respiratory pattern of FMS patients showed a high occurrence of periodic
breathing (PB) (15+/-8% of total sleep time) in 15/17 patients, versus 2/17 control subjects. The short length of apnoeas and hypopnoeas did not affect the apnoea/hypopnoea index (5.1+/-3.5 versus 3.2+/-1.6; NS), but FMS patients had a greater number of desaturations per hour of sleep (8+/-5 versus 3+/-3; p<0.01).

Pulmonary volumes did not differ between the two groups, but FMS patients had a lower transfer factor of the lung for carbon monoxide (TL,CO (5.8+1 versus 7.7+1 mmol x min(-1) x kPa(-1); p=0.001). PB occurrence
correlated with TL,CO (r=-0.62; p=0.01), number of desaturations (r=0.76, p=0.001) and carbon dioxide tension in arterial blood (Pa,CO2) (r=-0.50; p=0.05). Stepwise multiple linear regression analysis showed desaturation frequency (p=0.0001) and TL,CO (p=0.029) to be the best predictors of PB
percentage(R2 0.73; p=0.0001). Patients complaining of daytime hypersomnolence had a higher number of tender points, about twice as many arousals per hour and a lower sleep efficiency than patients who did not report this symptom.

TL,CO was more impaired and the occurrence of PB was higher. The occurrence of periodic breathing in fibromyalgia syndrome patients, which was previously unreported, and is shown to be linked to a reduction of transfer factor of the lung for carbon monoxide could play a major role in the symptoms of
poor sleep of these patients.


Sergi M, Rizzi M, Braghiroli A, Puttini PS, Greco M, Cazzola M,
Andreoli A



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