Entete 3

Obstructive sleep apnea and multimorbidity

By Laurence Robichaud-Hallé

A paper entitled Obstructive sleep apnea and multimorbidity was recently published in BMC Pulmonary Medicine. The work described was carried out in the course of completing a Master’s degree in Clinical Sciences at the Université de Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada, under the supervision of Dr. Martin Fortin and Dr. Michel Beaudry. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) poses a major public health problem due to its prevalence, severity and socioeconomic burden. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, 858,900 Canadians reported suffering from sleep apnea, and almost 26% of Canadians are at high risk of developing the condition (http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/cd-mc/sleepapnea-apneesommeil/ff-rr-2009-eng.php).

Multimorbidity—defined as the co-occurrence of two or more chronic diseases—is highly prevalent in primary care. One study reported that multimorbidity is observed in patients with OSA (1), but, to our knowledge, ours is the first to analyse the association between OSA and multimorbidity.

Our study revealed an association between severe OSA and severity of multimorbidity as measured by the Disease Burden Morbidity Assessment (DBMA) (2). The relationship was still present after adjusting for several potential confounders. The study also showed an association between OSA and multimorbidity sub-scores (cardiac, vascular, metabolic syndrome).

Primary care providers should be aware of these potential associations and investigate OSA when deemed appropriate.

This research received financial support from the CIHR Applied Research Chair – Health Services and Policy Research on Chronic Diseases in Primary Care/Canadian Institutes of Health Research-Institute of Health Services and Policy Research, Canadian Health Services Research Foundation and Centre de santé et de services sociaux de Chicoutimi.


1)     Smith R, Ronald J, Delaive K, Walld R, Manfreda J, Kryger M: What are obstructive sleep apnea patients being treated for prior to this diagnosis? Chest 2002, 121:164–172.

2)     Poitras M-E, Fortin M, Hudon C, Haggerty J, Almirall J: Validation of the disease burden morbidity assessment by self-report in a French-speaking population. BMC Health Service Research 2012, 12:35.

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