Spanish researchers have revealed that continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) lowers the risk of cardiovascular death in elderly patients with obstructive sleep apnea.

Until now, almost all of the studies on the effectiveness of CPAP have been conducted on middle-aged individuals, despite the fact that sleep specialists are seeing a growing percentage of elderly patients, observes researcher Miguel Angel Martínez-García, M.D.

This is important because, as Martínez-García notes, elderly patients with severe, untreated sleep apnea have a higher cardiovascular mortality than those with mild to moderate disease, or those without sleep apnea. What’s more, CPAP treatment can lower cardiovascular mortality in elderly obstructive sleep apnea patients to levels experienced by individuals without the disease or with mild to moderate sleep apnea.

People with obstructive sleep apnea experience periods during sleep where breathing stops due to an airway blockage. To treat this, patients wear a mask over their nose and/or mouth, which pumps pressurized air through their airway as they sleep. More than 12 million Americans are believed to have sleep apnea.

Without devices such as CPAP machines, the lungs of patients don’t receive an adequate supply of oxygen. As a result, people with obstructive sleep apnea are at a higher risk for having strokes.

Source :  July 2011 Issue of McKnight’s Long Term Care News

 

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