CPAP can save your life
A new study from Britain makes it
clear: if you suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, you can greatly reduce
your risk of stroke or heart attack by seeking treatment for your
A team from the Oxford Centre for
Respiratory Medicine started with 118 severe apnea patients and fitted
them all with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP)
devices. Half the patients received air at the appropriate pressure
to keep their airways open; the other patients' machines delivered air at
too low a pressure to be therapeutic. After one month all patients
had their blood pressure taken and the result showed a significant
difference: the first group showed reduced blood pressure; the group who'd
receive sub-therapeutic CPAP actually showed a slight increase.
The physicians concluded that the
difference in blood pressure translates into a 20% reduction in the risk
of a stroke and a 15% reduction in the risk of a coronary "event" such as
a heart attack. The study found that the more severe a
patient's sleep apnea, the greatest benefit from the CPAP treatment.
Strictly speaking, the study speaks to
the benefits of CPAP treatment, but it is logical to assume that any
effective treatment of sleep apnea would have the same result of lower
blood pressure and lower risk of early death. Indeed, a headline in
The Lancet where this paper was published reads: "Effective treatment of
sleep apnoea in the UK could prevent over 1000 coronary heart disease and
stroke events yearly." (The British misspell apnea.)
Patients with untreated obstructive sleep
apnea run a 3% risk of stroke and heart attack and yet this disease is
widely believed to be under-diagnosed. The mission of
is to help draw snorers' attention to the
fact that they may be Snoring out an
SOS. If your questionnaire results show you are in this category,
please seek medical attention.
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