For sufferers of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a new study shows that losing weight is perhaps the single most effective way to reduce OSA symptoms and associated disorders, according to a new study in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, one of the American Thoracic Society's three peer-reviewed journals.
Weight loss may not be a new miracle pill or a fancy high-tech treatment, but it is an exciting therapy for sufferers of OSA both because of its short- and long-term effectiveness and for its relatively modest price tag. Surgery doesn't last, continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines are only as effective as the patient's adherence, and most other devices have had disappointing outcomes, in addition to being expensive, unwieldy and having poor patient compliance. Furthermore, OSA is generally only treated when it has progressed to a moderate to severe state.
"Very low calorie diet (VLCD) combined with active lifestyle counseling resulting in marked weight reduction is a feasible and effective treatment for the majority of patients with mild OSA, and the achieved beneficial outcomes are maintained at 1-year follow-up," wrote Henri P.I. Tuomilehto, M.D., Ph.D., of the department of Otorhinolaryngology at the Kuopio University Hospital in Finland.
The prospective, randomized trial found that, in 81 patients with mild OSA, the 40 patients who were in the intervention arm underwent a diet that strictly limited caloric intake combined with lifestyle counseling lost more than 20 pounds on average in a yearand kept it off, resulting in markedly lower symptoms of OSA. The 41 patients in the control arm, who only received lifestyle counseling and lost on average less than 6 pounds, and were much less likely to see improvements in their OSA.
And not only does sustained weight loss improve OSA, it also improves the many other independently linked co-morbidities such as hypertension, high
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American Thoracic Society