CPAP Health Benefits: Health Risk Prevention and Promise of a Better Life





CPAP Health Benefits: Health Risk Prevention and the Promise of a Better Life1
1. Introduction2
II. CPAP Health Benefits2
Health Risk Prevention, Control, or Mitigation2
Heart Disease/Cardiovascular Disease 2
Diabetes 4
Brain Damage4
Motor Vehicle Accidents5
Benefits to One’s Health and Well-Being 5
Daytime Alertness and Wakefulness5
Focus and Concentration5
Mood and Emotional Stability5
Snoring and Bed Partner 6
Medical Cost of Poor Sleep 6
III. Conclusion6




I. Introduction

Did Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia die from sleep apnea, a disorder that 25 million of Americans are reportedly suffering from?

For sleep specialists, Justice Scalia’s case sends the message that sleep apnea is a condition to be taken seriously. Treatment is necessary.

CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure and is the foremost method of treatment for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). The CPAP machine supplies pressurized air through the mask to prevent the airway in the throat from narrowing or collapsing, an event that disrupts sleep and has links to conditions or diseases that can be detrimental or fatal.

CPAP therapy can improve the quality of life for people with OSA. This guide focuses on CPAP health benefits with the therapy’s role in preventing or keeping health risks under control and improving day-to-day lives.



II. CPAP Health Benefits

This research focused on the long-term compliance with CPAP therapy and found that the patients who continued using CPAP were reportedly satisfied with the treatment and “experienced improved sleep, feeling better and having more energy.”

Using CPAP at least four hours or more or as prescribed every night is essential to treat OSA, which can be dangerous if left untreated. Adherence to the therapy may also lead to positive outcomes.

A. Health Risk Prevention or Control

i. Heart Disease/Cardiovascular Disease

  • Heart disease
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Heart Failure
  • Arrhythmia
  • Heart valve problems

Heart disease is a leading cause of death in the U.S., where 647,457 have died from the disease in 2017. Globally, 17.9 million people died from CVD, primarily stroke and heart attack, in 2016.

A scientific statement from the American Heart Association emphasized looking into the relationship between OSA and CVD and identifying treatment strategies. Here is what published studies know so far about CPAP and its beneficial impact on CVD.

CVD ConditionBenefit of CPAP
Stroke etc.A study monitored men with OSA for ten years and found that the use of CPAP can lower the incidence of fatal and non-fatal cardiovascular events. Fatal events: death from myocardial infarction, stroke Non-fatal events: coronary artery bypass surgery, myocardial infarction (non-fatal), stroke (non-fatal), percutaneous transluminal coronary angiography
High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) Patients with non-resistant hypertension who used CPAP for OSA were monitored for 30 months. The study noted significant improvements in blood pressure and highlighted the importance of long-term CPAP use in connection with sleep apnea and hypertension.
Heart FailureThis research explored CPAP, the most widely-used form of PAP therapy, as a non-invasive approach for patients with heart failure. It noted the therapy’s effect on respiration and hemodynamics.
Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)The use of CPAP has mitigated some mechanisms linking OSA with CAD. However, more studies are needed to establish the impact of CPAP therapy on CAD outcomes.
Atrial FibrillationAF is a type of arrhythmia and can increase the risk of
stroke. Using CPAP may control an irregular heartbeat. This case demonstrated the effectiveness of CPAP in reducing arrhythmias in a patient with mild OSA.


ii. Diabetes

Sleep apnea is a risk factor for diabetes. Studies have established the link between OSA and Type 2 diabetes, glucose intolerance, and insulin resistance, which may cause Type 2 diabetes. Approximately 83,564 Americans died from diabetes in 2017, according to the CDC.

Using CPAP as a foremost treatment for patients with OSA have yielded these positive outcomes:

  • Improved glycemic control among patients with Type 2 diabetes: A 2013 study noted a reduction in (a) 24-hour glucose levels and (b) early-morning increase in blood sugar, called dawn phenomenon or effect, as a result of CPAP therapy.
  • An article published in Diabetes Spectrum in 2016, pointed to CPAP therapy benefiting glucose homeostasis in Type 2-diabetes patients based on studies.
  • Improved insulin resistance (IR): Meta-analyses of randomized clinical trials and studies demonstrated a link between OSA and IR and CPAP’s favorable effect on IR.


iii. Brain Damage

CPAP may be able to reverse brain damage caused by severe sleep apnea. This is according to a neuroimaging study titled, “White Matter Integrity in Obstructive Sleep Apnea Before and After Treatment.” The study observed “an almost complete reversal of WM abnormalities” after 12 months of using CPAP therapy. The patients also showed improvements in the following areas after treatment:

  • Sleepiness
  • Mood
  • Quality of Life


iv. Motor Vehicle Accidents

OSA causes excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS), which in turn raises the risk of traffic accidents.

A study published in 2015 found that CPAP can reduce the risk of motor vehicle accidents related to untreated sleep apnea and associated EDS.

It observed 1,478 patients, where 131 drivers were involved in traffic accidents, and made the following findings:

  • Eighty-two (82) motor vehicle accidents were recorded during the study period, with 56 accidents that occurred within five years before a sleep diagnostic test and 26 accidents after the diagnosis.
  • Patients that were highly compliant with CPAP (used it for at least or more than four hours every night) figured in fewer motor vehicle accidents.

B. Benefits to One’s Health and Well-Being

Nighttime CPAP treatment can ease the subjective symptoms of sleep apnea and result in better days for patients.

i. Daytime Alertness and Wakefulness

A study presented in 2011 confirmed that patients with minimal symptoms of OSA benefited from improved daytime sleepiness within six months of CPAP therapy. Increased wakefulness also resulted in higher QOL scores.

ii. Focus and Concentration

Reduced attention from lack of sleep or sleep deprivation can make it difficult to concentrate and perform tasks at hand. The aforementioned study on the brain’s structural changes due to sleep apnea observed “significant improvements involving memory, attention, and executive functioning” after CPAP treatment.

iii. Mood and Emotional Stability

A UCLA School of Nursing study published in 2016 found low levels of GABA and high levels of glutamate in subjects with OSA. GABA is associated with producing a calming effect, while glutamate is related to stress.

A separate study published in 2019 found that CPAP can reduce depression symptoms among patients with OSA and CVD. As it is, sleep positively affects mood and puts one in a better disposition.

iv. Snoring and Bed Partner

Snoring is one of the most known signs of OSA. CPAP delivers a constant flow of air to keep the airway from collapsing and, in so doing, prevents the snoring or gasping sounds.

Eliminating the snores also benefits the patient’s bed partner, who is often the first to know and report the snoring.

V. Medical Cost of Poor Sleep

OSA has been established as a risk factor for certain diseases, and treating the sleep disorder is a step toward mitigating costs associated with those health risks. The cost of undiagnosed OSA is estimated to be at $150 billion a year, according to a 2017 National Safety Council report.


III. Conclusion

At the end of the day, the body needs adequate rest to rejuvenate and prepare for tomorrow’s activities.

Obstructive sleep apnea is a treatable and controllable condition with the help of CPAP therapy, which benefits both patients and their families.

Comfort is a critical piece to ensure compliance with the therapy to gain or sustain positive results in the long-term. Today’s CPAP machines and CPAP masks come in more varieties and features to suit users’ unique needs and characteristics.

Regular cleaning of the components, the machine, mask, and hose also keeps them in good condition and promotes hygiene, which is underscored by viral outbreaks, COVID-19 being the most recent one.

Disclaimer: This guide is provided for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as medical advice. Please consult your physician regarding your health condition.




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