Details of groundbreaking research linking obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) treatment and the reduction of heart attacks and strokes were provided in a recent press release. By treating OSA patients with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines, plaque buildup in the arteries was reduced dramatically in just months.
Plaque buildup can contribute to both heart attacks and strokes. Plaque buildup can rupture. This can form blood clots that travel anywhere in the body. A heart attack happens when one of these blood clots blocks a vessel that feeds the heart. Those with obstructive sleep apnea are at higher risk for heart attacks and strokes.
Relationship between OSA and heart attacks and strokes
Prior to this research, it was unclear whether or not there was a relationship between heart attacks, strokes, and obstructive sleep apnea. This research provides a direct link that OSA by itself can contribute to plaque buildup in the arteries.
OSA can cause plaque buildup in the arteries. Buildup in the arteries can cause a heart attack or stroke.
This research shows that the most common treatment for OSA, which is using a CPAP, can reduce the buildup in the arteries. By reducing the plaque buildup, the potential for a heart attack or stroke is also reduced.
About sleep apnea
Sleep apnea happens when we stop breathing for at least one breath during our sleep. The Greek work apnea means “without breath,” hence the name sleep apnea was given to describe the medical condition that exists when people stop breathing while they are asleep. People can wake up as often as 60 or more times an hour in one night.
Obstructive sleep apnea affects as many as 12 million people in the U.S. While it is typically more common in men, women may also suffer from OSA.
The standard treatment for sleep apnea is the use of a CPAP machine. The CPAP forces air into a person’s nose or throat, stopping their episodes of apnea.
About heart attacks
Our blood circulates through our body, and our heart. A “heart attack” occurs when that blood can’t reach the heart, or is interrupted from reaching the heart, our heart begins to die from oxygen starvation. It can result in death.
Our blood circulates throughout our body, which is what gives us life. A “stroke” is the term used when this blood circulation is interrupted and our blood stops flowing to some or part of our brain, and we loose at least a part of our brain function, or it can result in death.
“OSA is independently associated with increased risk of fatal cardiovascular events that can be reversed by treatment with CPAP,” said one of the researchers, Luciano Drager, M.D., of the University of São Paulo Medical School in Brazil.