Elevated Body Position Improves Respiratory Safety In Postpartum Women

dr-matthias-eikermann.jpgMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Matthias Eikermann, MD, PhD
Associate Professor of Anaesthesia, Harvard Medical School
Director of Research, Critical Care Division
Massachusetts General Hospital

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Eikermann: Obstructive sleep apnea occurs in about 5% of pregnant women, worsens as pregnancy progresses and is likely to persist into the early postpartum period. A main cause of anesthesia-related maternal death is postpartum airway obstruction. We observed among early postpartum women, that 45° upper body elevation increased upper airway diameter and mitigated sleep apnea, without adverse effects on quality of sleep after delivery.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Eikermann: In mothers early after delivery, elevated body position improves respiratory safety – it decreases the vulnerability to airway collapse during sleep.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Eikermann: We need to identify high risk patients – those mothers who should know we strongly recommend they sleep with the upper body elevated – for instance, in our study a first analysis suggests that  patients who received opioids for post-delivery pain treatment are apparently at high risk of obstructive sleep apnea – interestingly, elevated upper body position ameliorated this risk of opioid-associated sleep apnea in our study.


Elevated upper body position improves pregnancy related obstructive sleep apnea without impairing sleep quality or sleep architecture early after delivery

Zaremba S, Mueller N, Heisig A, Shin CH, Jung S, Leffert LR, Bateman BT, Pugsley LJ, Nagasaka Y, Moreno Duarte I, Ecker JL, Eikermann M.

Chest. 2015 Apr 23. doi: 10.1378/chest.14-2973. [Epub ahead of print]

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MedicalResearch.com Interview with:, & Matthias Eikermann, MD, PhD (2015). Elevated Body Position Improves Respiratory Safety In Postpartum Women 

Last Updated on April 29, 2015 by Marie Benz MD FAAD