Thoracic and Sleep Group Queensland People caring for how you breathe and sleep

April 29, 2016

April 28, 2016

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) may be linked to sleep problems a year and a half after the injury

Filed under: Blog — Mark Russell-Pavier @ 11:40 pm

Newsweek (4/27, Firger) reports that research suggests individuals “who suffer” a traumatic brain injury (TBI) “may experience sleep problems a year and a half after the injury.” The study, published in Neurology, also found that “these patients often aren’t aware that it’s a problem.”
The Los Angeles Times (4/27, Healy) reports that “On average, 1½ years after their brain injury, subjects slept 8.1 hours per night vs. 7.1 hours for healthy controls.” The study indicated that “even with that extra hour, they were more tired during their wakeful hours, as measured by how quickly they fell asleep.”
On its website, CBS News (4/27, Welch) reports, however, that participants with TBI “didn’t report feeling any sleepier than those without head injuries when asked how tired they were during the day.”
According to the NPR (4/27, Hamilton) “Shots” blog, these findings “suggest there could be a quiet epidemic of sleep disorders among people with” TBIs. Also covering the story are HealthDay (4/27, Reinberg), Medical Daily (4/27, Cara), and MedPage Today (4/27, Lupkin).



April 27, 2016

Immunotherapy tablets for dust mite allergy may reduce risk of an attack in people with moderate to severe asthma

Filed under: Blog — Mark Russell-Pavier @ 10:29 pm

The NPR (4/26, Shute) “Shots” blog reports that research published in JAMA indicated “immunotherapy tablets for dust mite allergy reduced the risk of an attack in people with moderate to severe asthma.” The nearly 700 participants “who completed the study had asthma that wasn’t well controlled by inhaled corticosteroids. Half of the participants took a pill made of dust-mite allergen daily, letting it dissolve under the tongue.”

On its website, ABC News (4/26, Mohney) reports that researchers “looked at 834 people in Europe who have house dust mite-related asthma that is not easily controlled with available medications.” The investigators “had some patients take a daily pill containing extract from two species of dust mites and others take a placebo.” Of the nearly 700 participants “who completed the study, researchers found that that those who took the pill containing dust mites were at reduced risk of moderate or severe asthma reactions compared to those on a placebo.” MedPage Today (4/26, Boyles) also covers the story.


April 21, 2016

Women may be more affected by shiftwork than men

Filed under: Blog — Mark Russell-Pavier @ 3:54 am

Women are more likely to be affected by jobs involving night shiftwork than men, according to a new study. The study shows women’s ability to perform tasks accurately is reduced when working night shifts into the early morning — particularly common in medical professions.

The finding comes from a paper published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science journal that details for the first time how changes in sleep-wake cycles and circadian rhythm differently influence brain function in men and women. To track these differences, lead author Professor Derk-Jan Dijk, from the University of Surrey, and colleagues from the UK and Singapore rescheduled the sleep-wake cycles of 16 men and 18 women to a 28-hour day, which involved going to bed and waking four hours later each day.

For the 10-day experiment, all time cues and external light were removed from the laboratory and low-light conditions maintained during “waking hours”. Dr Dijk, director of the Surrey Sleep Research Centre, said sleep was regulated by two systems — the body’s sleep-wake cycle and the circadian biological clock. The sleep-wake cycle helps people maintain enough sleep throughout the night to balance against the time they are awake, while the circadian clock regulates the timing of periods of sleepiness and wakefulness. The circadian clock adjusts according to environmental time and light levels — in general adults’ strongest sleep drive is between 2am and 4am.

28-hour day tests the sleep cycle

Dr Dijk said the creation of a 28-hour day disrupted the sleep-wake cycle and made it easier to determine the impact of the body — or brain — clock on performance.

“We normally sleep at night and are awake during the day, and this makes it difficult to assess the separate contribution of ‘internal time of day’ as determined by the brain clock and the duration of wakefulness,” he said.

“We can assess the separate contributions of these two factors by scheduling the sleep-wake cycle to a 28-hour day. The brain clock ticks at approximately 24.2 hours and cannot keep up with this 28-hour day.

“When we do this for a week or so, sleep and wakefulness have been scheduled at … the internal brain time and we can then estimate the contribution of time awake and brain time to performance.”

Participants undertook a series of cognitive tasks and self-assessments every three hours while they were awake. The activities included rankings of sleepiness, mood and effort required to complete tasks and tests to measure attention, accuracy and motor control.

Dr Dijk said the study showed in women the performance on certain tasks was more impaired by “being awake at the wrong time of day” than in men. “Extrapolation of these findings to the real world implies that women may be more affected by shiftwork than men,” he said. The researchers also suggest this difference “may in part reflect social factors such as family and childcare responsibilities that lead women to work longer hours and to sleep less on days off than men”.

Women under-represented in sleep studies

Dr Dijk said the study was the first to investigate sex differences in circadian regulation of performance while awake.

He said women were generally under-represented in sleep studies because of concerns that any variability between women and men was due to “variations in hormones related to the menstrual cycle”.

“But, if we are interested in the effects of circadian rhythms and sleep on brain function in humans there is of course no good reason to limit ourselves to only men,” he said.

Key points

  • First study to look at differences in sleep cycles and circadian rhythms between men and women
  • 16 men and 18 women were studied for 10 ’28-hour days’ to disrupt body clock
  • Women’s ability to perform tasks was more impaired by being awake at night than men


April 18, 2016

Helping People with Parkinson’s Get Better Sleep

Filed under: Blog — Mark Russell-Pavier @ 5:58 am

A study at The University of Western Australia (UWA) may offer hope in alleviating some of the memory and thinking skills problems associated with the debilitating movement disorder Parkinson’s.

It comes as the Shake It Up Australia Foundation urges Australians to support World Parkinson’s Day on April 11 to help raise awareness for those living with Parkinson’s, along with money for vital research.

UWA PhD student Maria Pushpanathan says the research, which examined the links between poor sleep and cognition in people with Parkinson’s and was published in Sleep Medicine Reviews, found that disturbed sleep had a profound effect on a patient’s concentration, memory, and planning ability.

The research was undertaken as part of the ParkC project, a longitudinal study of thinking and motor symptoms in Parkinson’s, which is a collaboration between Curtin University and UWA.

Pushpanathan and co-authors, associate professor Romola Bucks and ParkC director Dr Andrea Loftus, carried out a meta-analysis of all the available data from independent studies on night-time sleep problems and cognition in people with Parkinson’s.

“While Parkinson’s is classified as a movement disorder, it also affects thinking and memory skills, and causes sleep disruption,” Pushpanathan says in a release. “It turns out that these sleep problems could be a significant factor leading to cognitive issues like poorer attention and memory loss. Having Parkinson’s is tough, let alone if we add more cognitive problems due to poor sleep.”

Pushpanathan says sleep disorders affect up to 98% of people with Parkinson’s with the range of common disturbances including insomnia, sleep fragmentation, sleep-related breathing disorders, restless leg syndrome, REM sleep behavior, disorder and nightmares.

“While the number of studies that fit our criteria was relatively small and this field of research is in its infancy, it is the beginning of a new scientific adventure,” Pushpanathan says. “What we have found could have major clinical implications by helping to raise awareness of how problematic sleep can have an enormous impact in Parkinson’s.”

“Our results also suggest that many types of sleep disorder, such as insomnia, and sleep-related breathing disorder, are not being identified or studied well in Parkinson’s.

“We know that sufficient, good quality sleep is vital for physical and mental health, as well as for thinking and memory. Further research investigating the impact of these common sleep disorders in Parkinson’s is desperately needed.”

Pushpanathan says researchers now hope to look at how sleep disorder evolves as Parkinson’s develops.

“Approximately 70,000 Australians are living with Parkinson’s—imagine how life would be different if sleep was no longer a struggle, and memory loss could be delayed, reduced, or even prevented,” she says.


Funding shortage leaves Australia’s lung health research in crisis

Filed under: Blog — Mark Russell-Pavier @ 5:16 am

Australia’s peak lung health organisations have issued an urgent call to overcome a funding crisis that is crippling lung health research in the country.
Lung Foundation Australia and the Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand (TSANZ) warn that without additional financing efforts to address potentially life-threatening conditions such as asthma, COPD and lung cancer will stall.
“Respiratory disease is a leading cause of premature death in Australia and a key contributor to hospital expenditure,” TSANZ President Professor Peter Gibson said.
“Investing in research will reduce the burden of disease and improve the health of millions of Australians, but it won’t happen without funding, and right now, this is negligently low,” he said.
“Lung disease has to attract the same level of research funding enjoyed by other disease areas such as breast, prostate, and heart disease,” Lung Foundation Australia Chair Professor Christine Jenkins said.
To address the crisis the organisations are launching a new research program that is appealing to the general public for funds. “Lungs for Life” is being launched from Perth on Saturday where lung health experts are convening for TSANZ’s Annual Scientific Meeting running from April 2-6.
“We appeal to everyone out there to consider supporting our new Lungs for Life research program,” Prof Jenkins said.
“Together we are calling on the general community, as well as the Australian government, to turn this research crisis around,” she said. “A donation to Lungs for Life is an investment in the health of our community.
Respiratory disease affects people of all ages. Infants are most affected by infections such as pneumonia and influenza, whilst asthma has a major impact on children and young adults. In older Australians, lung cancer and COPD are leading causes of death.
In 2011-12, an estimated 6.3 million Australians suffered from a chronic respiratory condition. In that same year, 276, 505 Australians were hospitalised due to lung disease – a staggering 757 hospitalisations per day, representing three per cent of all hospitalisations.

“Research is one of the most effective ways to improve the prevention, detection, treatment and management of lung disease. But research doesn’t happen in a vacuum,” concluded Gibson and Jenkins.
To find out more about Lungs for Life or make a donation please visit

Nurses publish colourful book to help alleviate children’s fears about having sleep apnoea

Filed under: Blog — Mark Russell-Pavier @ 2:11 am

NURSES Maree DeSylva and Jane Gauci have hit upon a colourful idea to get the message sleep apnoea across to children. The two clinical nurses at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead co-wrote the delightful book The Special Mask which helps children to learn about sleeping disorders and how to deal with it. Ms DeSylva said it has taken them a long time to get the well-illustrated book published and thanked the Sherwood Ridge Public School for their big fundraising efforts. The school raised more than $1,000 towards the publishing costs with the authors rewarding them by launching the book at its Kellyville campus.

Titled The Special Mask, the book has been created to help alleviate some of the anxiety and stress children face while undergoing Continuous Positive Airway Pressure initiation that introduces them into wearing the mask they need to breathe safely at night.

The book’s creation and publication was largely funded by Sherwood Ridge Public School, Ms DeSylva said.  “Their efforts were also supported with fundraising by The Children’s Hospital at Westmead’s Volunteers department.”

The Special Mask is about a caterpillar called Charlie, who has sleep apnoea. His parents take him to see Dr Magdy Mouse, who recommends CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure). A nurse butterfly comes to see Charlie, and CPAP is initiated.

“The story closely follows the model of care used for CPAP initiation in the home setting and is hoped to help the 150 children who are seen at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead each year have a more positive experience when adjusting to treatment at home,” Ms DeSylva said. “The hospital’s In The Home department has the first team in Australia to initiate paediatric CPAP initiation in the home environment”.

Year 5 student Parisha Prasad, a patient of The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, read the book during the launch.

The book, which is illustrated by Emma Stewart, is distributed free.


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