Schizophrenia, Obesity, and Obstructive Sleep Apnea.

Background: This study evaluated the risk factors for obstructive sleep apnea in psychiatric patients.

Method: The subjects were 364 patients referred to a sleep disorders consultation service from an inpatient psychiatric hospital. Seventy-eight percent underwent polysomnographic testing. Rates of obstructive sleep apnea in different diagnostic groups (established by clinical DSM-III-R diagnosis) were retrospectively assessed.

Results: Logistic regression demonstrated significant independent effects of age (p = .046), gender (p = .002), body mass index (p < .001), and chronic neuroleptic use (p = .012) on the presence of obstructive sleep apnea (defined as more than 20 instances of apnea and/or hypopnea per hour of sleep). Patients with schizophrenia were significantly heavier and had higher rates of sleep apnea than did other psychiatric patients.

Conclusion: Obesity, male gender, and chronic neuroleptic administration are risk factors for obstructive sleep apnea in psychiatric patients. Since patients with schizophrenia are often on long-term neuroleptic treatment, they may have high rates of obstructive sleep apnea, mediated via the weight gain produced by such medications. Overweight psychiatric patients and those on chronic neuroleptic treatment (e.g., patients with schizophrenia) should be evaluated for sleep apnea if signs and symptoms of this disorder are present.

J Clin Psychiatry 2001;62(1):8-11