A recent study from the Oxford Radcliffe Hospital in the United Kingdom has shown that a common sleep apnea treatment, CPAP, has a beneficial effect for those that suffer from high blood pressure.

Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition that restricts the airflow from the mouth to the lungs. People with sleep apnea typically snore, but more importantly, their air intake is actually stopped periodically throughout the night while they sleep. Recent research has shown that people who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea are more likely to have high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes.

The most popular treatment for sleep apnea is the use of a device known as a continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, machine. The device keeps the airways open and reduces symptoms during sleep.

There were 118 men with severe sleep apnea who participated in the study. Half received the normal treatment with a CPAP machine, while the other half used machines set up so that it had no impact on the condition. The men not in the control group had a significant decrease in blood pressure. The researchers hope that the study, and proper use of a CPAP machine, could mean a reduced cardiovascular risk to patients in the future.

Ramie A Tritt, MD, President, Atlanta ENT