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Acupunct Med 28:115-119 doi:10.1136/aim.2009.001867
  • Original papers

Immediate effect of acupuncture on the sleep pattern of patients with obstructive sleep apnoea

Editor's Choice
  1. Sérgio Tufik1
  1. 1Sleep Division, Universidade Federal de São Paulo (UNIFESP), São Paulo, Brazil
  2. 2Department of Neurology/Neuroscience, Universidade Federal de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil
  3. 3Department of Physiology, Universidade Federal de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil
  1. Correspondence to Dr Anaflávia de Oliveira Freire, Department of Physiology, Universidade Federal de Sao Paulo, Unifesp Rua Botucatu 862, 04023-062 São Paulo/SP, Brazil; a.freire{at}unifesp.br
  1. Contributors AOF and GCMS were responsible for all acupuncture and electroacupucnture procedures. AOF, GCMS, LEM, SMT and ST contributed to the study conception, supervision, review of the analysed data and writing of the report. SMT contributed to the analyses of the PSG examinations.

  • Accepted 16 February 2010
  • Published Online First 15 June 2010

Abstract

Background Most patients with obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) do not tolerate treatment with nasal continuous positive airway pressure, the ‘gold standard’ treatment for this condition. It was shown in a pilot study that acupuncture was more effective than placebo treatment (sham acupuncture) in producing significant changes in the respiratory events assessed by polysomnography (PSG).

Objectives To investigate the immediate effect of manual acupuncture (MA) and electroacupuncture (EA) on the sleep pattern of patients presenting with moderate OSA.

Methods 40 patients with an Apnoea–Hypopnoea Index (AHI) of 15–30/h were randomly allocated to MA treatment (n=10), EA 10 Hz treatment (n=10), EA 2 Hz treatment (n=10) and a no-treatment control group (n=10). The patients received MA or EA (2 or 10 Hz) just before the PSG study at 20:00.

Results The AHI (p=0.005; p=0.005), the Apnoea Index (p=0.038; p=0.009) and the respiratory events (p=0.039; p=0.014) decreased significantly in the MA and EA 10 Hz groups, respectively (AHI (21.9, 11.2), Apnoea Index (5.15, 0.7), respiratory events (120.5, 61.0) in the MA group before and after. AHI (20.6, 9.9), Apnoea Index (8.2, 0.3), respiratory events (117.0, 56.0) in the EA 10 Hz group before and after). The micro-arousals decreased only in the MA group (146.0 vs 88.5, p=0.0002). There were no significant changes in the EA 2 Hz group or in the control group.

Conclusion A single session of either MA or EA 10 Hz had an acute effect in reducing the AHI as well as the number of nocturnal respiratory events of patients presenting with moderate OSA.

Footnotes

  • AOF and GCMS are joint first authors.

  • Funding CNPq (Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico) sponsored this trial and provided a doctoral fellowship (GCMS); FAPESP (Fundação de Apoio a Pesquisa do Estado de Sao Paulo) sponsored this trial as part of larger research project (CEPID) and also provided a postdoctoral fellowship (AOF).

    The sponsors of the study had no role in the study design, the planning of the data analysis or interpretation of the results. All investigators had free and unlimited access to raw data and statistical reports. The authors made final decisions on all aspects of the manuscript.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the Universidade Federal de São Paulo (UNIFESP), Brazil.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Accepted 16 February 2010
  • Published Online First 15 June 2010