Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and obesity often coexist, and both conditions are also risk factors for high blood pressure among other health problems.
While the effects of weight loss on both OSA and hypertension have been studied independently, recent research at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine focused on the potential impacts of weight loss in conjunction with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy. The findings indicate that a combination of weight loss and sleep apnea treatment can significantly lower blood pressure in patients with OSA.
Researchers found that complementing CPAP treatment with weight loss in patients with obstructive sleep apnea was more effective than either therapy individually. While this outcome may seem obvious, the study’s authors emphasized that their research indicates the importance of addressing both sleep apnea and obesity.
It is also important to note that while the study monitored patients who consistently used CPAP treatment for 24 weeks of therapy, many patients discontinue CPAP treatment before it has a chance to be effective. CPAP requires patients to wear a mask as they sleep; this mask is connected to a device that circulates oxygen and helps patients maintain an open airway.
But many patients find the mask uncomfortable and cumbersome, and stop treatment. Fortunately, CPAP is not the only treatment option for obstructive sleep apnea.
Many people with sleep apnea have restored healthy, restful sleep with the use of oral appliances. These comfortable devices are similar to sports mouthguards and are custom-made to fit your individual bite.
If you or a loved one suffers from loud, regular snoring or other symptoms of sleep apnea, a dentist with experience in the field of dental sleep medicine can help you determine whether you have obstructive sleep apnea and recommend a treatment option designed for your unique needs.