The heart is called a vital organ for a reason. Duh, without your heart, you’d be dead. But our heart is responsible for a number of imperative physiological functions – like pumping blood and oxygen to the rest of our organs. This is why obstructive sleep apnea can be so damaging – there is a definitive link between the sleep disorder and the development of hypertension and other potentially lethal cardiovascular issues – including the risk of dying from a sudden heart attack. Now, a new study suggests that CPAP compliance is essential in reducing these cardiovascular risks.
Sleep apnea is dangerous for our heart and cardiovascular system – the system responsible for making sure our body has a healthy supply of oxygen – because it literally deprives the body of oxygen. Each time you struggle for breath, you are causing this deprivation, which ultimately causes your blood pressure to elevate – this is called hypertension. Hypertension can lead not only to cardiac failure, but also other issues – such as stroke and aortic aneurysm. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine wanted to know if CPAP compliance had anything to do with preventing hypertension and reducing cardiac complications as a result of sleep apnea.
They observed 47 adult patients with a median age of fifty years or younger who were recently diagnosed with sleep apnea. They not only tested them before CPAP treatment, but also after. The researchers’ results were remarkable. Patients who complied with CPAP therapy more than 4 hours a night showed huge improvements in blood pressure – they also showed improvement in peripheral arterial tone and stiffness, which are two things doctors look for when determining how healthy someone’s heart is. On the other end of the spectrum, low-compliance test subjects didn’t see any results when they received less than 2.5 hours of therapy.
What does it all mean? Basically, high compliance is the key to benefitting from CPAP treatment – or else, what’s the point? Researchers also noted that CPAP treatment is essential in reversing the cardiovascular risks, so it is important to start treatment right away. Letting your sleep apnea ravage your cardiovascular system could have hugely damaging consequences. In the long run, researchers noted that CPAP was essential in reducing the severity of cardiovascular complications – no matter how much damage the sleep disorder has caused.
So, what’s the take away from this study? Basically, you should get diagnosed for sleep apnea right away and begin treatment. If you’ve already been diagnosed for sleep apnea, it is time to purchase a new CPAP machine and start undergoing CPAP treatment right away. Hypertension can take you down a path of numerous medical complications that could lead you to a board meeting with your maker sooner than you’d like. In the long run, CPAP treatment is the easiest solution to a potentially problematical and quite possibly lethal future problem.
Source: “CPAP Compliance Key to Reducing Cardiovascular Risks of Sleep Apnea.” School of Medicine and Public Health University of Wisconsin Medicine. June 3rd 2014.