Clinical trial shows no reduction in heart attack or stroke events in patients with moderate to severe sleep apnea and existing cardiovascular disease
A new study reveals that CPAP machines which are designed to help sleep apnea sufferers do not reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke in the patients, but help them breathe more easily during sleep.
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Sleep apnea, as the name suggests, is a sleep disorder which is characterized by momentarily stoppages in breathing during sleep. The condition can cause sleep disturbance and even lead to more chronic conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke and Type 2 diabetes.
A CPAP machine or continuous positive airway pressure therapy is usually recommended for sleep apnea patients, which consists of a hose and a mask. The machine keeps the airway open by providing constant and steady air pressure to a patient’s throat.
A new research has found that CPAP machines don’t prevent heart attack or strokes in patients with moderate to severe sleep apnea and existing cardiovascular disease. The impact is no better than sleeping without the machine.
“In the past, we have always seen obstructive sleep apnea as a risk factor for hypertension and developing heart disease and stroke. So now you say that reducing obstructive sleep apnea by effective treatment does not change the end points.” Dr Stephne Gielen, Head of the Heart Failure Programme and an interventional cardiologist at the Heart Centre of the University of Leipzig said.
The study involved more than 27,000 participants who were diagnosed with both coronary heart disease and moderate to severe sleep apnea. Researchers found no impact on heart health of the participants in terms of heart attackes and strokes. During the one-week trial, participants were able to wear mask only 3.3 hours per night similar to what CPAP users used to have in real world. That may not be enough time to influence and reduce cardiovascular events. However, participants showed improvement in mood, work productivity and overall quality of life.
The latest research contradicts many previous researches that have shown that CPAP seemingly reduces heart attack and strokes.
“At the moment, we could not recommend, on the basis of our study findings, that CPAP be used for the prevention of cardiovascular disease in patients particularly those who are asymptomatic from sleep apnea,” said lead author Dr R Doug McEvoy.
“For those who are symptomatic, we would strongly urge cardiologists and cardiovascular physicians to be vigilant to identify patients with obstructive sleep apnea and treat them adequately for their sleep in terms of well-being for their patients.”