Obstructive sleep apnea affects around 20 million Americans and can lead to hypertension, heart attack, stroke, depression, muscle pain, fibromyalgia, morning headaches, and excessive daytime sleepiness.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

You Can Lose the Weight and Not the Apnea

In a study published August 15 in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, researchers studied 24 adults with obstructive sleep apnea through bariatric surgery. Before the surgery, subjects had an average BMI of 51, while after the surgery they had a BMI of 32. What they found was that, one year after surgery, only 4 % of the subjects had resolved their sleep apnea, and the majority of them still had moderate to severe sleep apnea, putting them at an elevated risk for mortality.

The study would seem to lend credibility to the theory we talked about last time: that obesity is an effect, not a cause, of sleep apnea, but it may not be true. It is important to remember that while all the patients experienced a dramatic reduction in BMI, they were by no means reduced to patients with an ideal BMI. Although they were no longer severely morbidly obese, they were still technically obese following their surgery.

More importantly, the study also found that although patients were still suffering from a potentially deadly degree of sleep apnea, the majority of them had discontinued use of their sleep apnea treatment, which in the study was CPAP. Most of them thought their sleep apnea was resolved, but this was probably due to the increase in energy they felt as a result of their weight loss. Once they felt this increase in energy, they were happy to be rid of the nuisance and discomfort of CPAP forever. It's possible that if the study had involved people being treated with oral appliance therapy, more of them might have continued their treatment following surgery.

If you have had bariatric surgery or lost a great deal of weight through diet and exercise, you may think your apnea is cured, but most likely it is not. However, there may be a more comfortable treatment option for your sleep apnea than your CPAP. To learn more about oral appliance therapy for sleep apnea, contact the Snoring and Sleep Apnea Treatment Center in Gurnee, Illinois today to schedule your sleep apnea consultation.

posted by Dr. Candelaria at 9:36 AM