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Barrett’s esophagus and the risk of obstructive sleep apnea: a case–control study

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posted on 09.01.2014, 00:00 by Linda C. Cummings, Ninad Shah, Santo Maimone, Wajeeh Salah, Vijay Khiani, Amitabh Chak
Background: Prior studies suggest that obstructive sleep apnea may be associated with gastroesophageal reflux disease, a strong risk factor for Barrett’s esophagus. The goals of this pilot case–control study were to determine whether Barrett’s esophagus patients have an increased likelihood of obstructive sleep apnea and to determine whether nocturnal gastroesophageal reflux symptoms affect the relationship between Barrett’s esophagus and obstructive sleep apnea risk. Methods: Patients with Barrett’s esophagus completed the Berlin Questionnaire, a validated survey instrument identifying subjects at high risk for obstructive sleep apnea. Two outpatient control groups were recruited: 1) EGD Group, subjects matched to Barrett’s esophagus cases by age, race, and gender with esophagogastroduodenoscopy negative for Barrett’s esophagus; and 2) Colonoscopy Group, patients getting colonoscopy. Rates of scoring at high risk for obstructive sleep apnea were compared. Respondents were also questioned regarding severity of their typical gastroesophageal reflux symptoms and presence of nocturnal gastroesophageal reflux symptoms. Results: The study included 287 patients (54 Barrett’s esophagus, 62 EGD, and 171 colonoscopy subjects). Barrett’s esophagus patients were slightly older than colonoscopy patients and more obese. 56% (n = 30) of Barrett’s esophagus subjects scored at high risk for obstructive sleep apnea, compared with 42% (n = 26) of EGD subjects (OR 1.73, 95% CI [0.83, 3.62]) and 37% (n = 64) of colonoscopy patients (OR 2.08, 95% CI [1.12, 3.88]). The association between Barrett’s esophagus and scoring at high risk for obstructive sleep apnea compared with colonoscopy patients disappeared after adjusting for age. Barrett’s esophagus patients reported more severe typical heartburn and regurgitation symptoms than either control group. Among all subjects, patients with nocturnal reflux symptoms were more likely to score at high risk for obstructive sleep apnea than patients without nocturnal reflux. Conclusions: In this pilot study, a high proportion of Barrett’s esophagus subjects scored at high risk for obstructive sleep apnea. Having Barrett’s esophagus was associated with more severe gastroesophageal reflux symptoms, and nocturnal reflux symptoms were associated with scoring at high risk for obstructive sleep apnea. The need for obstructive sleep apnea screening in Barrett’s esophagus patients with nocturnal gastroesophageal reflux symptoms should be further evaluated.


This study was funded in part by Respironics Sleep and Respiratory Research Foundation (SPC106642) to AC and support from the Division of Gastroenterology and Liver Disease, University Hospitals Case Medical Center. LCC was supported by an NIH Postdoctoral Training Grant in Digestive Diseases (T32-DK61917), NIH Paul Calabresi Award for Clinical Oncology (K12 CA076917), and Case SPORE in GI Malignancies (P50 CA150964). AC was supported by a Midcareer Award in Patient Oriented Research (K24DK002800) from the NIDDK.


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© 2013 Cummings et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. © 2013 by BioMed Central, BMC Gastroenterology


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