Sleep apnea is a common condition among obese individuals, and a new study explains that the symptoms can be relieved with significant weight loss.
Typically, people who have obstructive sleep apnea actually wake up many times during the night because of breathing difficulties—and they do not realize it. The disturbed sleeping pattern eventually leads to daytime tiredness that affects work, school and usual activities of daily living. Most of the time, patients with sleep apnea are given continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), a medical intervention utilizing a machine to keep the respiratory airways patent when sleeping.
The new research was lead by Kari Johansson of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. To conduct the study, 63 overweight patients with sleep apnea were gathered. Part of the study was for the subjects to undergo weight-loss program and weight-maintenance counseling. When the study participants lost weight, the researchers discovered that half of them can do without a CPAP machine to maintain airway patency when sleeping. About 10 percent of all subjects did not experience sleep apnea anymore.
Because of the extra adipose tissues, the airways may not be able to stay patent during sleep. As an individual gains more weight, sleep apnea worsens. However, the exact opposite happens when an individual loses a significant amount of weight.
Dr. Virend Somers, a professor of medicine and cardiovascular diseases at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, suggested a clinical association between extra weight and sleep apnea. Although the exact reason is yet to be discovered, the researchers would like to prove such connection. After all, not all patients with sleep apnea are obese in the same way that most obese patients have sleep apnea.
Obesity is currently one of the most common global health problems. It is a key risk factor in the development of certain diseases like diabetes, cancer and heart disorders.