Sleep apnea in young abstinent recreational MDMA ("ecstasy") consumers

Una D. McCann, Francis P. Sgambati, Alan R. Schwartz, George A. Ricaurte

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

BACKGROUND:: Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, "ecstasy") is a popular recreational drug of abuse and a selective brain serotonin neurotoxin. Functional consequences of MDMA neurotoxicity have defied ready characterization. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a common form of sleep-disordered breathing in which brain serotonin dysfunction may play a role. The present study sought to determine whether abstinent recreational MDMA users have an increased prevalence of OSA. METHODS:: We studied 71 medically healthy recreational MDMA users and 62 control subjects using all-night sleep polysomnography in a controlled inpatient research setting. Rates of apneas, hypopneas, and apnea hypopnea indices were compared in the 2 groups, controlling for body mass index, age, race, and gender. RESULTS:: Recreational MDMA users who had been drug free for at least 2 weeks had significantly increased rates of obstructive sleep apnea and hypopnea compared with controls. The odds ratio (95% confidence interval) for sleep apnea (mild, moderate, and severe combined) in MDMA users during non-REM sleep was 8.5 (2.4-30.4), which was greater than that associated with obesity [6.9 (1.7-28.2)]. Severity of OSA was significantly related to lifetime MDMA exposure. CONCLUSIONS:: These findings suggest that prior recreational methylenedioxymethamphetamine use increases the risk for obstructive sleep apnea and lend support to the notion that brain serotonin neuronal dysfunction plays a role in the pathophysiology of sleep apnea.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2011-2017
Number of pages7
JournalNeurology
Volume73
Issue number23
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2009

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology

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