Sleep apnea and blood vessel abnormalities.
UNITED KINGDOM -- Obstructive sleep apnea may cause changes in blood vessel function that reduces blood supply to the heart in people who are otherwise healthy, according to new research. However, treatment with 26 weeks of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) improved the participants' blood supply.
Obstructive sleep apnea, which causes periodic pauses in breathing during sleep, affects about 15 million adults in the United States, according to the American Heart Association. The sleep disorder may be a contributing factor to hypertension and cardiovascular diseases.
Gregory Y.H. Lip, M.D., lead study author and Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Birmingham, says: "The findings should change how doctors treat patients with obstructive sleep apnea. Even apparently healthy patients with sleep apnea show abnormalities of small and large blood vessels, as well as impaired blood supply to the heart muscle, and these can improve with CPAP therapy."
CPAP treatment provides a constant airflow that holds the airway open to maintain uninterrupted breathing during sleep. This eliminates sleep apnea events and allows patients to have a restful sleep.
(Source: Hypertension: Journal of the American Heart Association; July 2011.)