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Effects of Continuous Positive Airway Pressure Therapy (CPAP)
In so-called sleep apnea, respiratory arrests repeatedly occur during sleep. Researchers have now found that the current leading therapy for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) does not reduce the likelihood of stroke or heart attack in people with cardiovascular disease. People with sleep apnea have an increased risk of such diseases. However, the so-called Continuous Positive Airway Pressure Therapy (CPAP) significantly improves the quality of life of those affected and even helped with depression.
Scientists at Flinders University and The George Institute for Global Health have now found that continuous positive airway pressure therapy (CPAP) is not an effective treatment for preventing stroke or heart attack in people with cardiovascular disease . However, the treatment significantly improves the quality of life of the sick. The doctors published the results of their study in The New England Journal of Medicine.
Large sleep study examines approximately 2,700 subjects
The largest sleep study ever conducted examined approximately 2,700 subjects over a period of more than four years. The scientists analyzed the effects of using CPAP devices in people who suffered from obstructive sleep apnea and cardiovascular diseases. Sometimes sleep apnea is easy to recognize even without symptoms. Other studies found some time ago that large tongues and tonsils can indicate obstructive sleep apnea.
CPAP devices improve quality of life and well-being
It was surprising that the scientists found no significant benefit from using CPAP devices to reduce stroke or heart attack in people with cardiovascular disease. But this type of treatment significantly improved participants' mood and wellbeing, explains Professor Doug McEvoy of Flinders University. When patients used the device for at least three hours a night, their mood and quality of life improved. In addition, these people need less time to recover from the effects of illnesses and are therefore on sick leave less, Professor McEvoy adds.
No benefits found in cardiovascular disease
We knew that people with obstructive sleep apnea were at increased risk of cardiovascular disease. For example, it has long been proven that sleep disorders and breathing interruptions increase the risk of stroke. During the investigation, we tried to determine whether the treatment of sleep disorders could also reduce the burden of cardiovascular diseases, explains Professor McEvoy. While the results did not show any significant benefits in cardiovascular disease, they could still be encouraging news for tens of millions of people with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
Effects of nocturnal respiratory arrest
So-called CPAP devices significantly improve the quality of life for people with breathing disorders while sleeping, says Professor Craig Anderson from The George Institute for Global Health. So-called sleep apnea causes a whole range of problems. Breathing interruptions at night increase the likelihood of a heart attack or stroke. They also cause lethargy, daytime tiredness, negative thoughts and excessive snoring.
Further research is urgently needed
Still, the results show that CPAP devices help people with obstructive sleep apnea improve their lives, the scientists say. This is an unprecedented benefit for people with a breathing disorder while sleeping. Further research is now needed to understand and reduce the significant risk of heart attack or stroke in people with obstructive sleep apnea, the authors add. (as)