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Apnea Treatment Might Reduce Signs of Heart Disease Risk
Date:12/15/2011

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Along with helping people with obstructive sleep apnea get a better night's sleep, machines that help keep the airways open during sleep can also help improve the symptoms of metabolic syndrome, according to new research.

Metabolic syndrome is a group of symptoms that indicate a higher risk of heart disease. These symptoms include excess weight, especially in the abdomen, high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol levels, higher blood sugar levels and insulin resistance. Many people with obstructive sleep apnea also have metabolic syndrome, according to the study.

After three months of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment, study participants with obstructive sleep apnea and metabolic syndrome had improvements in their blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels. Thirteen percent of those who received the breathing treatment had such significant reductions in their symptoms that they no longer qualified as having metabolic syndrome after three months of therapy.

"Patients with obstructive sleep apnea should be actively screened for metabolic syndrome or constituents of metabolic syndrome, and, in addition to lifestyle modification, weight reduction and dietary modification, [should be given] proper counseling for CPAP use, and a CPAP machine should be used regularly," said the study's lead author, Dr. Surendra Sharma, a professor and head of the department of internal medicine at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi, India.

Results of the study are published in the Dec. 15 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. Funding for the study was provided by a grant from Pfizer. Sharma said that Pfizer does not produce CPAP machines, and they were not involved in the study's design, implementation or interpretation.

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