Heart Beat: November 2012
If left untreated, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can significantly raise the risk of cardiovascular mortality-especially from stroke and heart failure-in older adults. However, the use of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) can greatly reduce the risk. Those are the findings of a large observational study published recently in the American Thoracic Societys American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. The link between OSA and cardiovascular mortality has been well established in younger patients, but the extent of the risk hadnt been as well documented in older adults. This study involved 939 patients with OSA, age 65 and older. CPAP use of at least four hours a night was considered good adherence. If youve tried CPAP in the past and not been happy with the results or the equipment, talk with your doctor about new, more comfortable masks that work better for you. If youre unsure if you have OSA, ask your partner if you gasp or snore at night or tell your doctor if you fall asleep easily during the day.