Compression stockings may relieve obstructive sleep apnoea

AN EFFECTIVE way of treating obstructive sleep apnoea in some patients might be as simple as wearing compression stockings, researchers say.

In a proof-of-concept study of 12 non-obese patients with chronic venous insufficiency and apnoea, it was found wearing compression stockings during the day reduced the number of apnoeas and hypopnoea per hour of nightly sleep by 36%.

The French researchers have previously demonstrated the apnoea/hypopnoea index is related to the volume of fluid accumulating in the legs overnight and displacing to the neck.

In this cross-over study, the team showed an average 62% reduction in overnight leg fluid when participants wore stockings, and a 60% reduction in their neck circumference increase.

Other interventions targeting fluid retention, such as diuretics and exercise, should be trialled, they suggested.

Am J Resp Crit Care Med 2011; in press