- Explain to interested patients that the study affirms a causal link between obstructive sleep apnea and atherosclerosis.
- Inform patients that CPAP may help reverse the cardiovascular risk caused by severe sleep apnea, but further study is needed to show it prevents heart attack and other outcomes.
SAO PAULO, Brazil, Sept. 28 -- Treatment of obstructive sleep apnea with continuous positive airway pressure reverses early signs of atherosclerosis, researchers here found.
In a carefully controlled, randomized trial, CPAP therapy reduced carotid intima-media thickness 9% over four months and improved arterial stiffness 10% among men with severe sleep apnea reported in the first October issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
These were "remarkable" changes as great as improvements seen in statin trials over six months to a year, said Luciano F. Drager, M.D., of the University of São Paulo here, and colleagues.
Furthermore, the findings provide the first solid evidence of the long-suspected causal link between sleep apnea atherosclerosis, commented T. Douglas Bradley, M.D., and Dai Yumino, M.D., both of the Center for Sleep Medicine and Circadian Biology at the University of Toronto, Canada, in an accompanying editorial.