Treatment for sleep apnea

The secret risk of sawing logs

Your spouse’s snide remarks aren’t the only risk of snoring. Snoring is often a symptom of sleep apnea, which is a serious health problem during which your breathing stops briefly. The loss of oxygen it causes puts a strain on your heart and increases your blood pressure.

And before you deny that you snore, you should know that people who have metabolic syndrome (i.e. problem blood sugar) are more prone to have sleep apnea. As I’ve said before, these days, most people do have problem blood sugar.

But according to a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, getting treatment for sleep apnea may help you improve ALL of these problems.

In this randomized study, the researchers assigned 86 patients with sleep apnea (87 percent of whom had metabolic syndrome) to undergo three months of treatment with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). CPAP involves using a machine that delivers air pressure through a mask you wear while you sleep to keep your breathing regular.

After a one-month break, the patients got three months of “placebo” CPAP that involved the mask but no air pressure treatment.

Before and after the study, researchers measured the patients’ blood pressure, blood glucose, insulin resistance, and cholesterol.

Among those patients with moderate-to-severe sleep apnea, three months of CPAP lowered their blood pressure–and partially reversed their metabolic syndrome.

If you suspect you may have sleep apnea, talk to your doctor. There are tests he can order that can determine whether it is a problem for you–and whether CPAP might be able to help cut your heart and diabetes risks…not to mention help you (and your spouse) sleep soundly.