According to a newly published study, even young US veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), are at increased risk for sleep apnea. And as their levels of PTSD increased, so did their sleep apnea risk.

A Surprisingly At-Risk Population

US soldiers boarding a helicopterA doctor working with veterans who had PTSD noticed that many of them also had sleep apnea and decided to to determine just how many of them were actually at risk for sleep apnea. The study looked at results for 195 veterans with an average age of 33 years. Their PTSD was evaluated using the PTSD Checklist Stressor Specific Version questionnaire, while sleep apnea risk was evaluated using the Berlin Questionnaire.

Researchers found that more than 69% of patients had a high risk for sleep apnea, and that their risk increased as their PTSD worsened. Every clinically significant increase in PTSD severity was associated with a 40% increase in sleep apnea risk.

As a result, researchers recommend that all veterans suffering from PTSD should be screened for sleep apnea.

Serious Consequences

It’s important for those with PTSD to get treatment for sleep apnea, because sleep apnea can be associated with an increase in PTSD severity, can interfere with treatment, and has other serious mental health consequences.

The high prevalence of sleep apnea in this community may explain an association that has previously been noted. Veterans who suffer from PTSD have been shown to be at higher risk for dementia later in life. Since sleep apnea can increase a person’s dementia risk, it might account for the disparity.

If you are a veteran suffering from PTSD or you know someone who has PTSD, it’s important to talk to a doctor about sleep apnea. And if you’re looking to learn more about your treatment options for sleep apnea, please call (402) 493-4175 for an appointment with an Omaha sleep dentist at the Advanced Dental Sleep Treatment Center today.