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

leep, causing a lack of oxygen that startles the person awake momentarily, though they may not be aware of awakening. This can happen several times to 100 times an hour, according to the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

The current study included 86 adults between the ages of 30 and 65. All had obstructive sleep apnea, but none was being treated with CPAP. Eighty-seven percent also had metabolic syndrome.

The study volunteers were randomly assigned to receive CPAP or sham CPAP treatment for three months. CPAP treatment involves wearing a face mask during sleep that continuously delivers air into the airway so it remains open. The sham CPAP had modifications to reduce the airflow, and the mask used had tiny holes that allowed extra air to escape. The modifications were done in such a way that even the researchers couldn't tell who was receiving standard CPAP and who received the sham treatment.

After three months, the study volunteers went one month without treatment, and then switched groups for another three months of therapy with the opposite treatment.

Compared to the sham treatment, people treated with CPAP had an overall drop of 3.9 mm Hg systolic (the top number) blood pressure and 2.5 mm Hg diastolic blood pressure. Total cholesterol levels went down 13.3 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), and LDL cholesterol, the bad type, dropped by 9.6 mg/dL in the treatment group. Levels of triglyceride, another important and potentially harmful blood fat, went down by 18.7 mg/dL in those who received treatment, according to the study.

Blood sugar levels went down slightly, as did waist circumference, according to the study.

Eleven patients (13 percent) no longer qualified as having metabolic syndrome after receiving CPAP, compared with just 1 percent receiving sham CPAP.

Sharma said these positive effects likely come from the restoration of normal oxygen levels. When the body becomes oxygen-deprived in obstru
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