LONG BRANCH, N.J. – According to a recent article published by WebMD, a study has found that continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy, an effective treatment for sleep apnea, can also improve risk factors for heart attack, stroke and diabetes.
The study’s results, which were published in the Dec. 15 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, reported that CPAP therapy is also associated with a lower risk of metabolic syndrome – a group of risk factors that occur together and increase the risk of heart disease.
“For a long time, we’ve known that there’s a relationship between heart disease and sleep apnea and that treating sleep apnea can decrease some of the risk factors associated with heart disease, including high blood pressure,” said Robert Kosinski, MD, FACP, FCCP, DABSM, a pulmonologist and medical director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Monmouth Medical Center.
Sleep apnea occurs when an individual repeatedly stops breathing during sleep. The most common form of this disorder occurs when a blockage in the airways prevents the flow of oxygen to the lungs. CPAP therapy regulates breathing by keeping the airways open with a constant supply of air pressure, eliminating snoring and subsequent sleep disturbance.
“The heart is like any other muscle in that it rests at night while you’re sleeping. If your sleep is disrupted, the cardiovascular system can’t rest properly, and over time, that leads to trouble,” said Dr. Kosinski.
“Many people don’t recognize they are not sleeping or that they stop breathing and are not getting good oxygenation during the night,” said Jeffrey Osofsky, MD, FACC, a board-certified cardiologist at Monmouth Medical Center who refers at least one patient a week for a sleep study.
“There are so many cardiac conditions that are, at least in part, caused by sleep apnea, including atrial fibrillation (rhythm disturbances) and cardiomyopathy (weakening of the heart muscle). I’m a huge believer in sleep studies as part of a diagnostic plan,” said Dr. Osofsky, who added that most of the patients he refers for sleep studies are diagnosed with sleep apnea and receive CPAP treatment.
“CPAP normalizes high blood pressure, heart rate and other irregularities that occur cardiovascular-wise during apneic events,” said Dr. Kosinski. “We often see significant improvement in these patients, including a decrease in the number or dosage of medications needed for good control of their blood pressure.”
For more information on The Sleep Disorder Center at Monmouth Medical Center, call (732) 923-7660.
June 6, 2012
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