In October of this year, a new study was published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, which reported that sleep apnea therapy with the use of positive airway pressure might positively affect sleep-related functional conditions in people who also have high blood pressure (hypertension).
In this study, researchers suggest that sleep apnea, when left untreated, may be the result of decreased quality of life that has been reported in patients with hypertension.
Findings in this study indicated significant and consistent improvement in outcomes reported by hypertensive patients when they use CPAP therapy for their sleep apnea. This study also reported significant improvement in symptoms of depression, severe fatigue, and daytime sleepiness within the first year of the start of therapy. These improvements were notable even in patients with resistant hypertension, a very difficult condition to treat.
Dr. Harneet Walia, MD, lead author of the study and assistant professor of Family Medicine at Case Western Reserve University’s Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine, noted that there was really no difference between the non-resistant hypertensive and resistant hypertensive groups when it came to patient-reported outcomes. The predominant finding was that patient-reported outcomes showed a more pronounced improvement in people who had objective adherence to the positive airway pressure therapy.
Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep-related breathing disorder with symptoms of frequent and repetitive episodes of starts and stops in breathing while asleep, indicating either complete or partial obstruction of the upper airway. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine reports that approximately 30% to 40% of people with high blood pressure also have obstructive sleep apnea. Therefore, it only makes sense that adherence to sleep apnea treatment methods is a good means of decreasing blood pressure and improving overall general health.
This observational study was done at a single center and included 900 patients with both hypertension and sleep apnea. About 15% of those patients had resistant type hypertension. The average age of participants was 58 years, 52% of which were male and 72% of which were Caucasian. All patients were being actively treated with positive airway pressure therapy at the Cleveland Clinic Sleep Disorders Center. Patient-reported outcomes were done with questionnaires, including the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) for depression, the Fatigue Severity Scale, as well as the Epworth Sleepiness Scale.
To their knowledge, the scientists report that they know of no previous study that has looked at the changes PAP therapy has on sleep-related functional outcomes in patients with hypertension, including resistant type hypertension.
Rachael Herman is a professional writer with an extensive background in medical writing, research, and language development. Her hobbies include hiking in the Rockies, cooking, and reading.
© 2021 American Sleep Association.