Thursday, April 30, 2009

Sleep Apnea Linked to Higher Risk of Sudden Cardiac Death

By Cara Miller

Sleep apnea increases a patients risk of death by heart attack according to medical research from the Mayo Clinic. CPAP therapy is the prescribed treatment to avoid the risks associated with sleep apnea.

In a study of over 10,000 patients, researchers found that sleep apnea was a serious risk factors for sudden death among patients with heart disease. (It was second only to being over 60 years of age.)

When not treated by CPAP therapy, sleep apnea causes nighttime oxygen levels in the blood to drop. Because the blood has less oxygen, the heart is over-stressed in its attempt to get sufficient oxygen to the brain and other vital body organs.

The Mayo research shows the link between sleep apnea and heart attacks: due to the decreased oxygen, the patient's blood vessels alter in a way that promotes heart disease. (Other cardiovascular diseases that apnea exacerbates include hypertension and stroke " along with Alzheimers.)

Simply stated, when the air passage doesnt let enough oxygen into the lungs, the body and brain begin to experience problem due to oxygen-depletion.

This is one of many reasons that the National Apnea Association (NAA) recommends that apnea patients utilize the most widely prescribed form of sleep apnea treatment: CPAP (continuous positive air pressure). Other reasons include increasing energy levels, decreasing depression and even assisting patients in losing weight.

To avoid apneas health risks, nightly use of CPAP equipment is required. Of course, wearing a sleep mask while sleeping is not easy for most people. In some ways it is not surprising that the national average for compliance with CPAP therapy is only 50%.

Patients can do three things to increase their chances of successful CPAP therapy:

1. Only buy CPAP equipment from the manufacturers recommended by your doctor. ResMed, Fisher & Paykel, and Respironics invest millions each year in research and development for patient safety. Do not buy equipment from websites that push low-quality CPAP machines on unsuspecting patients.

2. Only buy your CPAP equipment from an authorized dealer of one of the above leading manufacturers. According to the National Apnea Association, there are a lot of websites that sell questionable, grey-market CPAP equipment. Often they claim that they are selling new CPAP equipment, the reality is that they simply dont know because they bought it on the grey-market instead of directly from the manufacturer to make a bigger profit off your illness. Buying from anything other than an authorized dealer means you might get refurbished equipment that just looks like new. But it wont have full warranty coverage and it might not even be sanitary. (Many used machines on the grey market come from deceased patients in hospitals and nursing homes.) Your best bet is finding a CPAP vendor certified as a ResMed Preferred Internet Provider and recognized by the National Apnea Association as a Partner in Care.

3. Get the help and support that you deserve to make CPAP easier. The research shows that patients who get CPAP coaching basically double their chances of success: from under 50% to over 90%. An example of a CPAP supplier who provides free coaching is, the NAAs 2008 award winner of Online CPAP Supplier of the Year.

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