ATS 2011, DENVER Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) effectively decreases the risk of cardiovascular death in elderly patients who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), according to a study conducted by researchers in Spain. The study is the first large-scale study to assess the impact of OSA and the effectiveness of CPAP treatment in cardiovascular mortality in the elderly.
The findings will be presented at the ATS 2011 International Conference in Denver.
"Our study offers two key conclusions," said Miguel Angel Martinez-Garcia, MD, study lead author pneumonologist at the Hospital General de Requena in Valencia, Spain."First, with younger patients, elderly patients with severe, untreated sleep apnea have a higher cardiovascular mortality than those with mild to moderate disease or those without sleep apnea; and second, treatment with CPAP can reduce cardiovascular mortality in elderly OSA patients to levels similar to those found in patients without disease or with mild to moderate sleep apnea."
Millions of people worldwide suffer from sleep apnea, which has been associated with cardiovascular health risks and poorer quality of life. Most studies, however, have been conducted in younger populations, Dr. Martnez-Garca noted.
"CPAP has been shown to be a very effective treatment for severe and symptomatic forms of sleep apnea," he said. "However, virtually all studies on the effectiveness of CPAP to date have been conducted in middle-aged individuals, despite the fact that a growing percentage of the patients we see in our sleep units are elderly and are treated with CPAP.
"This is a very important issue considering the gradual increase in longevity worldwide," he added.
Patients with severe OSA typically experience regular interruptions in their sleep when breathing temporarily stops. In these patients, normal airflow is blocked as the soft tissue of the airway collapse and sag into the throat
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American Thoracic Society