Treating sleep apnea with CPAP has been associated with a lower risk of heart problems

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Sleep Treatments | Sleep Review

The results of a recent study show that patients with untreated moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea were at higher risk for a cardiovascular event, but the risk of developing heart problems was decreased in patients using CPAP therapy.

The results show that people with moderate to severe sleep apnea and no records of CPAP use are 71% more likely than those without sleep apnea to experience myocardial infarction, stroke, unstable angina, heart failure, or cardiovascular death. Compared to the risk of heart problems in patients with untreated sleep apnea, the risk of having a cardiovascular event was 32% in patients with any severity of sleep apnea using CPAP therapy and 44% in patients with moderate to severe sleep apnea lower sleep apnea using CPAP.

“Our study helps understand the role of CPAP therapy in cardiovascular risk prevention,” says lead author Diego R. Mazzotti, a PhD in psychobiology and assistant professor in the medical informatics department of the University of Kansas Medical Center’s internal medicine department. in a press release. “We found that the effects of CPAP were stronger in patients with moderate to severe sleep apnea and in patients who used CPAP for an average of more than 4 hours a night.”

The researchers analyzed the electronic health records of patients who received a sleep study between January 2018 and September 2020 through the Kaiser Permanente healthcare system in Southern California. The sample included 11,145 people without sleep apnea, 13,898 patients with sleep apnea and records of any CPAP use, and 20,884 patients with sleep apnea and no records of CPAP use. To be eligible for analysis, patients had to be free from cardiovascular disease for one year prior to being diagnosed with sleep apnea. Results were adjusted for age, gender, body mass index, ethnicity, comorbidities, and use of antihypertensive and lipid lowering drugs. The median follow-up was 262 days.

“Our observational study suggests that clinical trials focused on understanding how to maintain long-term CPAP adherence in patients with obstructive sleep apnea are necessary and could be critical in optimizing comorbidity risk reduction,” says Mazzotti.

The study is a cross-site collaboration between Kaiser Permanente Southern California (led by Jiaxiao Shi, PhD, senior regional research statistician, and Dennis Hwang, MD, medical director of sleep medicine) and the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing (led by Amy Sawyer, PhD, RN, Associate Professor of Sleep and Health Behavior).

The research abstract was recently published in an online supplement of the journal Sleep and presented as a poster at Virtual SLEEP 2021.



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