I’ve always wondered about a possible link between arthritis and obstructive sleep apnea. We know that people with arthritis also have a higher rate of cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome. I recently found out that Phil Mickelson has a debilitating condition called psoriatic arthritis. A few days before the last US Open, he could barely walk.
As I researched the link between rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and obstructive sleep apnea, I was shocked to see all the studies showing how often people with arthritis have significant obstructive sleep apnea. Here’s a great review article on the association between these two conditions. What’s striking is the fact the the leading cause of death in people with rheumatoid arthritis is cardiovascular disease. Various studies have shown that around 50% of all people with RA have obstructive sleep apnea, which is a very high number.
We know that one of the major effects of sleep apnea is systemic inflammation, with significant measured increased in markers such as CRP, IL-2, IL-6, and TNF, amongst many others. The physiologic stress response that’s created in obstructive sleep apnea can activate your immune system, making it hypersensitive or over-react to normal situations.
Do you have obstructive sleep apnea and rheumatoid arthritis? If so, did your arthritis get better after treating your sleep apnea?
(I realize that Mickelson had psoriatic arthritis. I’ll be posting about psoriasis and sleep apnea soon. You’ll be surprised by what I found.)