Monday, June 17, 2013

Sleep Apnea? Stick With Your CPAP

Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type of apnea – which itself means “without breath.” In sleep apnea there are frequent cessations of breathing that last 10 seconds or more. One of the most successful treatments for obstructive sleep apnea is something known as CPAP, which stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. A machine pushes air through the airway at a pressure high enough to keep the airway open during sleep. The problem is that the patient has to wear a mask of some sort, to deliver the air. There are many different masks, including nasal pillows, nasal masks, and full-face masks. But many patients find that any mask is troublesome to wear – and therefore it’s hard to follow the doctor’s advice to use CPAP.

A study from Brazil, has reported findings showing that CPAP is worthwhile. Over 400 men with, on average, more than 30 apnea episodes an hour, were allocated to CPAP or no treatment for 4 months. During this time the thickness of the cell layers lining the arteries decreased significantly. This indicates clearly an improvement in atherosclerosis, the degenerative artery disease that precedes heart attack, stroke, and peripheral arterial disease. Until now, atherosclerosis has not been proven a complication of sleep apnea. This may change.

Anyway, these new findings should make any obstructive sleep apnea sufferer think twice before abandoning his CPAP apparatus.

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