The gold standard treatment for a diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea is a continuous positive airway pressure machine, or CPAP. CPAPs are great machines for a variety of reasons, most importantly they reduce the amount of times that you stop breathing throughout the night. If you are given a CPAP or considering CPAP usage, you may be curious about how your body is going to change once you start using it on a regular basis. CPAP therapy is considered very safe and has many benefits after consistent and correct use, including reduced snoring, less daytime fatigue, and decreased blood pressure. Continue reading to learn more about how using a CPAP machine positively impacts your body and your ability to get a good night's rest.
Those with obstructive sleep apnea often have a higher body weight. This is either caused or worsened by obstructive sleep apnea, or was the reason that sleep apnea developed. Every 10% increase in waste increases the risk for obstructive sleep apnea by a factor of 6. Obesity can increase the risk of obstructive sleep apnea, and sleep apnea may cause the person to gain weight. Because of this there are some researchers who have suggested that treating obstructive sleep apnea with the CPAP machine may lead to weight loss.
However, current research suggests the opposite may be true and that the use of a CPAP machine may actually increase weight. Therefore, people who use CPAP machine should continue to use it but should not rely on it for weight loss period lifestyle changes such as improved diet and exercise should be use as well to assist with weight loss.
Researchers are unsure why treating obstructive sleep apnea with the CPAP machine can lead to weight gain. However weight is influenced by so many different factors that it may be a variety of things in addition to the CPAP machine. There are many speculated reasons, including changes in energy usage since there's now a machine that is there to help with breathing, having a higher blood sugar, and the amount of time that one uses their CPAP machine.
One of the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea is excessive daytime sleepiness and a lack of concentration and focus. Treating obstructive sleep apnea with CPAP has been found to reduce these symptoms and increase alertness. Just one night of using a CPAP can lead to improved attention the very next day. People wear the obstructive sleep apnea may have residual sleepiness even and after they start due to the length of time that obstructive sleep apnea interfered with their sleep. The people at highest risk for residual sleepiness include those who were already sleepy people before their diagnosis of OSA, and those who only use the CPAP just a few hours a night.
Studies show that those who use the CPAP to treat their OSA often have reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression. However these effects may be less impactful in those who also have coronary artery disease. Researchers are not exactly sure how this happens, but they assume it's because the low oxygen levels are associated with obstructive sleep apnea may actually lead to changes in the brain. So by providing your brain with more oxygen when using the CPAP machine, you may actually be able to improve mental health while using it.
Better heart health
There are mixed results when it comes to the effect of CPAPs on cardiovascular health. Some studies did not find any difference between those who used CPAPs and those who did not use CPAP in their risk for cardiovascular issues such as stroke or heart attack. However some researchers think that this was due to the type of research design that this particular study was. Recently other studies have found that people who have OSA and are using CPAPs for at least four hours a night reduce the risk of having a stroke. This may be due because obstructive sleep apnea can cause fluctuations in blood pressure, low oxygen levels in the blood, as well as high carbon dioxide levels in the blood. All of these can negatively impact the blood flow to the brain, but treatment with CPAP reduces the amount of fluctuations and overall stroke risk. Also research suggests that obstructive sleep apnea may contribute to a buildup of cholesterol and arteries, atherosclerosis, and an irregular heart rhythm, atrial fibrillation. Both of these conditions increase the risk for stroke, so if you reduce the risk for those then you can reduce the risk for stroke.
Improved blood pressure
Individuals with obstructive sleep apnea can have increased risk for high blood pressure. Studies show that those who use CPAP to treat their obstructive sleep apnea can reduce their high blood pressure on an average of two to three millimeters mercury. Blood pressure improvements can only be seen in those who use their CPAP for at least four hours a night, and by reducing blood pressure one can reduce their risk for an adverse cardiovascular event like a stroke.
Interestingly enough, research has shown that certain groups can benefit even more from CPAP in terms of reducing their blood pressure. Those who have high blood pressure that has persisted despite the use of blood pressure medication have improved when using CPAP machines. Also African Americans have improved their blood pressure by using CPAP over other races. Although CPAP may reduce the risk for high blood pressure, it is still important for individuals to consult their physicians and follow physician orders in relation to treatment of their high blood pressure. Lifestyle modifications are still shown to be one of the more long-term effective treatments for blood pressure.
Heart failure risk in severity
Obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea can overlap with their increase in heart failure risk. Obstructive sleep apnea can increase the risk for heart failure while central sleep apnea can be increased by the development of heart failure. CPAP use helps improve heart dysfunction that is common in heart failure. CPAP may help protect against heart failure symptoms because it improves function of the left ventricle of the heart, as well as alters the nervousness and activity that can influence the rate at which the heart beats.
One of the telltale signs of obstructive sleep apnea are morning headaches. However treating obstructive sleep apnea with CPAP machine has been found to reduce the incidence of the headaches and headaches in general. In addition to this, men seem to receive more headache relief from using CPAP therapy than women. Researchers are unsure why headaches happen and how CPAP may help, but it may have something to do with the lack of oxygen that those with OSA receive.
Obstructive sleep apnea increases the risk and severity of diabetes. Metabolic issues are common symptoms and consequences of obstructive sleep apnea. Studies remain inconclusive, however, on whether or not CPAP machine benefits glycemic control. There are some studies that say insulin resistance decreases with the use of a CPAP, however more research is needed to confirm whether or not this is true. The same is true with the eyesight changes that take place in severe diabetes. Some studies have shown that by using CPAP therapy, individuals with diabetes and eyesight problems are able to improve their vision. However other studies have shown no such changes. Therefore more research is needed to determine if there is a relationship between CPAP use and diabetic management.
If you are concerned that you have sleep apnea, or your partner thinks that you may have sleep apnea, it's important to get treated as soon as possible. The only way to be diagnosed with sleep apnea is to do a sleep study as a sleep center or in your home. Once you do that and are diagnosed with sleep apnea, you may then be eligible to receive a CPAP machine. There are a few other treatment options that will be as effective as CPAP so it's important that you speak to one of our health professionals today to receive the treatment that you may need. Please click the orange button below to take the free online sleep test and get in contact with one of our sleep health professionals as soon as possible.