(HealthDay News) — Adults with asthma face an increased risk for developing obstructive sleep apnea, new research reveals. The findings have been published in the January 13 issue of Journal of the American Medical Association.

The study was led by Mihaela Teodorescu, MD, of the William S. Middleton Memorial Veteran’s Hospital and the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, both in Madison.

The findings stem from the long-term tracking of 547 men and women, of whom 15% had asthma. All were participants in the Wisconsin Sleep Cohort Study. At the study’s launch in 1988, all the enrollees were between the ages of 30–60. Every four years since that time, each completed general health questionnaires, while also completing in an overnight in-laboratory sleep test.

At the first four-year follow-up, the study authors found that more than a quarter of the asthma patients (27%) also had newly developed sleep apnea. This compared with just 16% of the patients without asthma. Over the full study period, the team concluded that asthma patients faced an almost 40% greater risk for sleep apnea than asthma-free participants. What’s more, the longer an individual had asthma, the greater their increased risk for developing obstructive sleep apnea, the investigators found.

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