CPAP May Protect Sleep Apnea Patients Against Death from Heart Disease

American College of Chest Physicians

Chest | 06/13/2005 Research Summary

Treating sleep apnea patients with continuous positive airway pressure, also known as CPAP, may reduce their risk of dying from heart disease.


Results of the study are published in the June issue of the journal Chest.


Researchers monitored 168 patients with obstructive sleep apnea for an average of 7.5 years. Results were compared among 107 of the patients who used CPAP and 61 patients who discontinued its use.


Results show that 14.8 percent of the untreated patients died from heart disease during the follow-up period, compared with only 1.9 percent of the CPAP patients.


The researchers also measured the total number of cardiovascular events, including the following:

• Death
• Congestive heart failure
• High blood pressure
• Stroke


The total number of these events was also significantly greater in the untreated group, 31 percent, compared to the CPAP group, 18 percent.


According to the authors, the extended use of CPAP by sleep apnea patients may protect them against heart disease that is related to the sleep disorder. CPAP therapy also produces other health benefits such as improved daytime alertness.


Members of the two study groups were similar in their ages, body mass indexes, and heart disease risk factors. Patients in the untreated group did have significantly lower ratings of sleep apnea severity than the CPAP patients.

Chest is a peer-reviewed journal published by the American College of Chest Physicians.