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A weight-independent association between atypical antipsychotic medications and obstructive sleep apnea



With increasing use of atypical antipsychotic (AAP) agents, the concern has been raised about the association between AAP agents and medical complications. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a common breathing disorder that adversely affects health and quality of life. Because the major risk factors for OSA are weight gain and obesity by altering the upper airway anatomy, an association between AAP and development of OSA is predictable. However, we hypothesized that AAP may promote OSA not only by weight gain but also because of its potential effects on upper airway muscle function. In the present study, we evaluated the possible association between AAP use and the severity of OSA.


A sample of patients using AAP for treatment of paradoxical insomnia was evaluated before and at least 8 weeks after AAP use. Patients were divided based on type of AAP use to olanzapine, risperidone, and quetiapine groups. Patients used olanzapine (5–10 mg), risperidone (2–4 mg), or quetiapine (100–200 mg) 2 h before bedtime. Before and after treatment, respiratory variables were recorded using polysomnography. BMI, neck circumference (NC), and waist circumference (WC) were measured before and after treatment period.


There was no significant difference between pre- and post-treatment apnea index (0.2 ± 0.6 vs. 2.6 ± 4.3; p = 0.094) in olanzapine group. However, significant differences in hypopnea index (5.1 ± 5 vs. 30 ± 10.8; p < 0.0001) and AHI (5.3 ± 4.9 vs. 32.6 ± 9.6; p < 0.0001) were observed. Similar results were found in quetiapine and risperidone groups, except that in quetiapine group, apnea index was significantly increased after treatment period (0.7 ± 1.2 in pre-treatment vs. 3.1 ± 2.4 in post-treatment; p = 0.007). There were no significant changes in BMI, NC, and WC during treatment period in all three groups.


While AAP medications are known cause of weight gain as a main risk factor of OSA, our finding demonstrated a weight-independent association between AAP medications and worsening respiration during sleep.

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Correspondence to Mohammad Rasoul Ghadami.

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No funding was received for this research.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in this study was approved by the ethics board of Kermanshah Medical University (KUMS) in Kermanshah, Iran.

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Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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The authors declare that they do not have any financial conflict of interest related to the topic of the study.

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Khazaie, H., Sharafkhaneh, A., Khazaie, S. et al. A weight-independent association between atypical antipsychotic medications and obstructive sleep apnea. Sleep Breath 22, 109–114 (2018).

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  • Atypical antipsychotic
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Weight gain
  • Polysomnography