August 11, 2020

Medical student's study finds diuretic decreases central sleep apnea in spinal cord injury patients

A Wayne State University School of Medicine student has published a study that indicates the drug acetazolamide, a commonly used diuretic, decreased the propensity to develop central sleep apnea and its frequency in patients with cervical spinal cord injuries.

“Effect of acetazolamide on susceptibility to central sleep apnea in chronic spinal cord injury,” published in The Journal of Applied Physiology, a premier journal in the field, is Geoffrey Ginter’s first published study. The third-year student also presented the findings at the international meeting of the American Thoracic Society in San Diego in 2018.

Central sleep apnea is a common condition in those with quadriplegia due to cervical spinal cord injury, heart failure and those using narcotics for pain, with few personalized treatment options available. The study findings demonstrated acetazolamide decreased the frequency of central apnea in such patients. The discovery provides

Geoffrey Ginter

support for further testing to determine the efficacy and effectiveness of the medication in a large number of patients.

“Spinal cord injuries often have a devastating impact on quality of life, and the detriment of the injury itself can be compounded by the litany of complications associated with spinal cord injury, one of which is central sleep apnea,” said Ginter, of Commerce, Mich. “Having the opportunity to work with people with spinal cord injuries and hopefully uncover new therapies that can improve their lives has been immensely rewarding.”

While the study indicates larger clinical trials are necessary, treatment with high-dose acetazolamide for three days decreased the susceptibility to central apnea and reduced the frequency of central respiratory events during sleep in a group of patients with spinal cord injuries that led to quadriplegia.

“We are hoping our work can serve as grounds to launch a larger clinical investigation into the efficacy of acetazolamide in the treatment of CSA in people with SCI, with the ultimate goal of adding acetazolamide to the repertoire of therapies available to these patients,” said Ginter, who wants to become a surgeon.

Study participants also included Abdulghani Sankari, M.D., Ph.D., professor of Internal Medicine; Mehdi Eshraghi, research assistant; Harold Obiakor, M.D., resident; Hossein Yarandi, Ph.D., professor of Nursing; Susmita Chowdhuri, M.D., professor of Internal Medicine; Anan Salloum, M.D., assistant professor of Internal Medicine; and M. Safwan Badr, M.D., chair of Internal Medicine.