How CPAP can help your heart
Your sleep therapy is prescribed to help you sleep better, but it also provides other health benefits. It is well established that sleep apnea is closely linked with heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, stroke, and ‘cardiometabolic syndrome’, which combines many of these conditions. The American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology Foundation issued a scientific statement on Sleep Apnea and Cardiovascular Disease in which they stated:
- Sleep-related breathing disorders are extremely common in patients with cardiovascular disease, including people with hypertension, coronary artery disease, stroke, heart failure, and atrial fibrillation.
- Evidence suggests sleep apnea is associated with “altered cardiac structure and function.”
- “Effective treatment of OSA by CPAP has been shown to markedly and acutely decrease blood pressure.”
- There is a likely role for CPAP therapy in “modulating myocardial energetics and metabolic efficiency in the failing heart.” In other words, CPAP can help.
Most studies that established untreated OSA as a significant contributor to cardiovascular disease and even death have included only middle-aged people. This research is focused on elderly people with sleep apnea, for whom the risk factor was previously unclear. The nine year study followed the health and sleep therapy habits of people over 65.
The study concluded that untreated, severe sleep apnea is associated with cardiovascular death in the elderly, especially from stroke and heart failure. It also showed that CPAP treatment reduced the excess of cardiovascular mortality to levels similar to those seen in patients without sleep apnea.
The moral of this story is to keep using your CPAP. If you have older friends and relatives who may have been diagnosed with sleep apnea or who exhibit excessive daytime sleepiness, share this article with them. Besides helping them feel better, CPAP treatment might just help them live longer, too.
Source: Somers VK, et al. Sleep apnea and cardiovascular disease: an American Heart Association/american College Of Cardiology Foundation Scientific Statement from the American Heart Association Council for High Blood Pressure Research Professional Education Committee, Council on Clinical Cardiology, Stroke Council, and Council On Cardiovascular Nursing. In collaboration with the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute National Center on Sleep Disorders Research (National Institutes of Health). Circulation. 2008 Sep 2;118(10):1080-111. doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.107.189375. Epub 2008 Aug 25.