Weight Loss Helps Reduce Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

A recent study suggests that people who experience a sleep disorder called obstructive sleep apnea could get rid of the condition through losing a considerable amount of weight.

Most of the individuals with sleep apnea do not realize that they wake up several times durring the night as they breathe difficultly. Sleep apnea is a condition that could lead to severe tiredness during daytime, as well as other symptoms.

Usually, patients with this condition undergo a treatment called continuous positive airway pressure or CPAP, which utilizes a machine to maintain their airways open while sleeping.

Dr. Virend Somers, a professor of medicine and cardiovascular diseases at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota said that there appears to be a link between excess weight and sleep apnea. However, the exact relationship is not yet clear. Somers said majority of the obese patients have sleep apnea, but not all patients with sleep apnea are obese.

Somers, who is not involved with the recent study, noted that physicians know that when patients gain additional weight, sleep apnea symptoms worsen. Meanwhile, weight lose improves the symptoms. He suggested that excessive weight may affect the ability of the airway to keep open while sleeping, or that additional fat cells could affect how the brain controls the airway.

The new study, which is published June 1 in bmj.com, is carried out by researchers headed by Kari Johansson from Karolinska Institute located in Stockholm. Researchers followed 63 overweight men, from 30 to 65-years-old, who were suffering from sleep apnea.

Fifty-eight males completed a weight plan, which followed a nine-week low-calorie diet and year-long weight maintenance program. A year after the program, nearly fifty-percent of the patients who reduced weight no longer required a CPAP machine. Ten-percent of them no longer had sleep apnea.

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