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When Pounds Go, Sleep Apnea May Improve
Date:9/28/2009

10 percent weight loss increases remission odds, but any amount helps, experts say

MONDAY, Sept. 28 (HealthDay News) -- People with sleep apnea who are also obese may triple the chances of eliminating their sleep problems by losing weight, a new study suggests.

Losing about 10 percent of their body weight was enough to bring on total or near-total remission, said Gary Foster, head of the Center for Obesity Research and Education at Temple University in Philadelphia, and lead author of the study.

"It's been clear that obesity increases the risk of sleep apnea but less clear that if obese people or people with type 2 diabetes lost weight, it would result in significant improvements in their sleep apnea -- and it did," said Foster.

People who are overweight or obese are much more likely to have obstructive sleep apnea, a condition in which a person's breathing stops or becomes very shallow, sometimes several hundred times a night and sometimes for as long as a minute, according to the American Sleep Apnea Association.

"The soft palate in the back of mouth falls down and blocks the airway," said Dr. Mitchell Roslin, chief of bariatric surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. "When you get to people with serious levels of obesity, it's virtually impossible to find those without [this type of] sleep apnea."

The condition can lead to cardiovascular problems, including stroke, and can raise the risk for dying prematurely.

"It really has tremendous detrimental effects on the cardiovascular system," Roslin said.

The study involved 264 obese men and women who also had type 2 diabetes and obstructive sleep apnea. They were randomly assigned to an intensive behavioral program intended to encourage weight loss or to a less intensive set of group sessions that mainly addressed the issue of diabetes management.

After a year, those in the intensive program had lost an
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