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Can CPAP Treatment Reduce Risk of Heart Disease?

Medically Reviewed & Written By: Bobby Afshari (B.Pharm.MPS)
Last Updated: 12/05/2020

cpap heart disease

When it comes to obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA), the disorder can be clearly linked with a high risk of heart problems – likely due to the lowered oxygen levels that people with OSA experience throughout the night.

Studies have shown that approximately 75% of people hospitalised due to a stroke also have sleep apnoea. Not to mention, half of the people studied weren’t on treatment, in the belief that their OSA was under control, or not knowing they had it in the first place.

With this in mind, it is important to understand the risks involved, as well as the options available when it comes to sleep apnoea treatment.

Using Sleep Apnoea Treatment to Improve Symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic syndrome is defined as a number of conditions that often occur together, increasing risk of diabetes, stroke and heart disease. Also called syndrome X, it includes symptoms of high blood pressure, excess weight, high blood sugar levels, and insulin resistance. The disorder is considered chronic and requires a medical diagnosis.

Increasingly common in Australia, metabolic syndrome is considered by many to be a significant risk associated with untreated sleep apnoea.

In 2011, a study was carried out, involving three months of consistent continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment on people with OSA and metabolic syndrome. The study demonstrated that CPAP machines not only helped in allowing people with sleep apnoea to get a better night’s sleep – they were found to improve symptoms of metabolic syndrome.

Participants wearing a CPAP mask throughout their sleep saw improvements in blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and blood sugar levels. Notably, thirteen percent of participants experienced changes so significant that they no longer were considered to have metabolic syndrome – after only three months of therapy.

How OSA Treatment Helps with Stroke Recovery

More recently, another study was carried out, including 252 patients who had recently experienced a stroke or mini-stroke. They were split into random groups with different treatment, concluding that:

  • OSA treatment was successful in aiding stroke recovery, with 59% of patients treated for OSA and a stroke showing significant improvement in their recovery
  • Only 38% of patients treated for just a stroke showed signs of improvement.

Considering that there is a clear link between OSA, strokes, and metabolic syndrome, it is likely that these changes are a result of normal oxygen levels – sleep apnoea causes the body to become oxygen deprived, causing distress that may lead to metabolic syndrome.

The study contributes to an increasing knowledge of the long-term consequences of OSA on someone’s health. When it comes down to it, evidence suggests that stroke recovery may be significantly benefitted by sleep apnoea treatment.

The Link Between Sleep Apnoea and Heart Failure

Taking a different approach to previous investigations, another recent study explored the connection between OSA and heart failure. This occurs when the heart is not effectively pumping blood, causing the body to receive inadequate amounts of oxygen.

With use of data from the Danish national health system, the study (published in the Journal of the American Heart Association) discovered that CPAP treatment reduced the risk of heart failure in adults of any age. Additionally, people over the age of 60 had a 38% lower risk of heart failure if they used CPAP treatment.

As said by the study’s lead author, Dr. Anders Holt, the new research sends a “clear, reassuring signal” about how CPAP treatment can benefit people with concerns of heart failure.

CPAP Treatment: It’s Worth Considering

As demonstrated by the aforementioned studies and many more, treatment of OSA may significantly reduce chances of a stroke, improve symptoms of metabolic syndrome, and aid in recovery. Although it is not a prescription for heart problems, CPAP treatment can result in clear benefits regarding blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar. Not to mention, it is likely to improve mood, productivity, and general quality of life.

It is never too late to benefit from sleep apnoea treatment – to schedule a free, no- obligation appointment, get in touch with us today. Or, try out our free online diagnostic test!

Bobby Afshari (B.Pharm.MPS)

Bobby Afshari (B.Pharm.MPS)

Bobby Afshari studied a Bachelor of Pharmacy and is a member of the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia. Bobby is the sleep technician at CPAP Online Australia.