People with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can significantly reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease by using continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines, according to new research presented at the European Respiratory Society International Congress. The study found that patients who consistently used CPAP machines had a 40% lower risk of death, a 36% lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, and an 18% lower risk of hospitalization due to cardiovascular disease.
Individuals with OSA experience symptoms such as loud snoring, frequent waking during the night, and interruptions in breathing. These interruptions can lead to reduced oxygen levels in the blood, fatigue, and an increased risk of health issues including high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. CPAP machines work by delivering a continuous stream of air through a mask, preventing the user’s airways from closing and improving the quality of sleep.
The study, conducted by Dr. Jordi de Batlle and his colleagues from Institut de Recerca Biomèdica de Lleida (IRBLleida) in Spain, examined 3,638 OSA patients who had stopped using CPAP machines and compared them to an equal number of patients who continued using CPAP. The results showed a clear link between CPAP usage and a reduced risk of death and cardiovascular disease. Dr. de Batlle emphasizes the importance of encouraging OSA patients to continue using CPAP machines, as they not only improve sleep quality but also prevent cardiovascular problems.
In addition to reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, a separate pilot study presented at the same congress suggests that CPAP may outperform a weight loss drug in reducing the accumulation of plaque in the arteries surrounding the heart. The study, led by Dr. Cliona O’Donnell and her team from St. Vincent’s University Hospital and University College Dublin in Ireland, involved 30 OSA patients who underwent a CT coronary angiogram to assess the condition of their heart’s blood vessels. The patients were randomly assigned to receive either CPAP treatment, weight loss injections with the drug liraglutide, or a combination of both.
The results showed that patients who received CPAP treatment experienced a reduction in plaque build-up and inflammation in the aorta, the body’s primary artery. However, patients who only received weight loss injections did not exhibit these improvements. While Dr. O’Donnell notes that this study is a pilot and further research is needed, she highlights the potential benefits of CPAP treatment for early signs of cardiovascular disease.
Professor Sophia Schiza, who is not associated with the research, underscores the conflicting data surrounding the effects of CPAP on cardiovascular risk reduction. However, she highlights the growing evidence suggesting that adherence to CPAP treatment is a key factor in lowering cardiovascular disease risk. Schiza emphasizes the need for individualized treatment plans, patient engagement, education, and close follow-up to ensure long-term adherence and better outcomes for OSA patients.
In conclusion, CPAP machines have been found to be effective in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease in individuals with OSA. The studies presented at the European Respiratory Society International Congress provide valuable insights into the benefits of CPAP treatment in preventing cardiovascular problems and improving patient outcomes. Although more research is needed, these findings support the importance of using CPAP machines and highlight the potential advantages over other treatment options.