Doctors have known since the 1980s that sleep apnea is closely related to high blood pressure. Recent studies are confirming that sleep apnea is a direct cause of this serious health problem, and that using a CPAP machine as treatment for sleep disorders can significantly and immediately reduce blood pressure.
The Benefits of CPAP Treatment
Earlier this year, Doctor Claudia Korcarz of the University of Wisconsin Atherosclerosis Imaging Research Program oversaw a study that tested the efficiency of a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine in reducing blood pressure in sleep apnea patients. Her results were conclusive
Dr. Korcarz observed 47 adults of mean age 41 years with Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). After undergoing CPAP treatment for only three months, subjects who used the machine for about 6 hours per night had significantly decreased systolic and diastolic blood pressure and increased artery size.
These results are in line with previous studies on the cardiovascular benefits of CPAP.
However, there are limitations to the beneficial properties of CPAP machines. According to Doctor Korcarz’s study, patients who originally experienced reduced blood pressure saw the benefits reversed within a week of stopping CPAP usage. Furthermore, patients who were not fully compliant with the machine (using it for less than 2.5 hours per night) saw no significant reductions in blood pressure.
Sleep Apnea and High Blood Pressure
Since the turn of the 21st century, the consensus among doctors has been that sleep apnea is a direct cause of high blood pressure.
This is because an apnea is an interruption in breathing while sleeping, which results in reduced oxygen levels in the body. In response, the brain sends out a signal to increase blood flow to important organs like the heart and brain by tightening blood vessels. These nighttime tendencies can carry over into the day, resulting in chronic hypertension.
A CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) Machine is a common means of treating sleep apnea. It delivers pressurized air through a facial mask, keeping airways open making sure the patient can breathe properly.
Lowering blood pressure results in a plethora of health benefits. It decreases strain on the heart, eyes, and kidneys. It also decreases the risk of coronary disease, a heart attack, or a stroke.
What can I learn from these results?
If you are currently using a CPAP machine, make sure you use it every night for at least 5 hours to ensure the best possible treatment for your apnea.
If you have sleep apnea, you may be dealing with much more severe health problems that just a poor night’s sleep. If you think you might have this condition, talk to your doctor to discuss a sleep study or treatment.
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