Do rheumatoid arthritis patients have a higher risk for sleep apnea?

Stephanie R. Reading, Cynthia S. Crowson, Richard J. Rodeheffer, Patrick D. Fitz-Gibbon, Hilal Maradit-Kremers, Sherine E. Gabriel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


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) ≥ 30 kg/m2)]. 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. The Journal of Rheumatology

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1869-1872
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Rheumatology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2009


  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Sleep apnea

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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