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Friday, June 13, 2014

Sleep apnea and the heart

Many of you who have heard me speak publicly, seen me in the office or read my blog know that I remain very concerned about the effects of sleep apnea on cardiovasacular health. I have written about this before:

Could your sleep be hurting your heart?

Women, Sleep and Heart Disease

Sleep apnea treatment helps your gold game

Do you have sleep apnea?

Two new important studies published in the June 12th edition of the New England Journal of Medicine continue to add to the growing body of evidence regarding the danger that sleep apnea poses to cardiovascular health and the importance of weightloss and continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment.

The first study reports that in obese patients with moderate to severe sleep apnea, weight loss is the most important intervention and reduces inflammation, insulin resistance, dyslipidemia, and blood pressure. Also, the addition of CPAP to weightloss led to a significant further reduction in blood pressure.

The second study also showed that CPAP is effective for lowering blood pressure in patients with moderate to severe sleep apnea. CPAP was much more effective that using just oxygen therapy at night.

Sleep apnea can:
- make it very hard to lose weight
- raise your high blood pressure
- make you legs swell
- increase your risk of developing atrial fibrillation
- make you feel very short of breath
- increase your chances of heart failure
- increase your chances of heart attack
- increase your chance of developing pulmonary hypertension
- increase your chances of stroke

The two most important interventions to treat this serious condition remain aggressive weightloss and CPAP.

If you have any of the following signs or symptoms, please consult your physician
- excessive daytime sleepiness
- waking up feeling unrefreshed after sleep
- memory and concentration problems
- heart burn at night
- swelling in the legs
- night time gasping or choking spells

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