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Yet another benefit of CPAP treatment for sleep apnea

Scientists explored another health benefit of CPAP treatment for sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea is a common problem leading to interruptions of breathing while at sleep, leading to unrefreshing sleep, which in turn leads to daytime drowsiness, anxiety, and low mood. Sleep apnea is associated with an increased risk of heart attack, high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes. Depression further enhances the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is the most commonly used treatment for sleep apnea. It has been shown to improve daytime sleepiness. To explore the benefits of CPAP on depression and anxiety, Professor Danni Zheng of Australia and his colleagues conducted a study which was published in E Clinical Medicine (The Lancet).

The researchers assessed data from the international Sleep Apnea Cardiovascular Endpoints (SAVE) trial led by Flinders University, South Australia. In addition, they analyzed 20 studies on sleep apnea. The SAVE study is the largest randomized trial conducted for the effectiveness of CPAP treatment for sleep apnea for cardiovascular diseases. Researchers selected 2410 patients with cardiovascular disease and moderate to severe sleep apnea from seven countries, who were followed for 3.7 years Anxiety and depression symptoms of these patients were noted using HADS (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale). The scientists found significant and sustained improvement in depression symptoms within six months of CPAP treatment, which was more marked in patients with pre-existing depression.

Professor Mc Evoy, one of the researchers states, “Patients who have had a stroke or heart attack are prone to suffer from low mood and are 2 to 3 times more likely to develop clinical depression, which then further elevates their risk of future heart attacks and strokes.” Nearly half of the patients suffering from cardiovascular diseases are likely to have sleep apnea. Thus, by substantiating the extra benefits of improving depression, this study highlights the importance of CPAP treatment for sleep apnea.

Written by Dr. Radhika Baitari, MS

References:

Articles, R. (2019). EClinicalMedicine. [online] Journals.elsevier.com. Available at: https://www.journals.elsevier.com/eclinicalmedicine/recent-articles [Accessed 4 Jul. 2019].

EurekAlert!. (2019). CPAP provides relief from depression. [online] Available at: https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2019-07/fu-cpr070119.php [Accessed 4 Jul. 2019].

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