MUNICH, March 14, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- To coincide with today's World Sleep Day, ResMed (NYSE: RMD), an innovator and pioneer in developing solutions for treating sleep-disordered breathing and other respiratory conditions, highlights its pick for the top five research discoveries about sleep apnea from the past year. Together, they paint an alarming picture: sleep apnea is on the rise and linked to sudden cardiac death, slower recovery from heart attacks, cancer, and high blood pressure.
1. Sleep apnea is associated with higher rates of cancer
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) deprives the body of oxygen (also known as hypoxia), which is associated with higher rates of cancer in patients, especially under the age of 65. OSA occurs when the throat relaxes during sleep and blocks the airway, causing a person to snore and/or stop breathing until the brain triggers a wake-up response and the body struggles to gasp for air.
[Association between Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Cancer Incidence in a large multicenter Spanish Cohort (Campos-Rodriguez et al., 2013 Am J of Respir Crit Care Med)]
2. Sleep apnea increases risk of sudden cardiac death
"Oxygen is necessary for human survival," said Holger Woehrle, MD, ResMed-Europe's vice president of Clinical Research. "When our oxygen supply is reduced, horrible things like sudden cardiac death are more likely to happen, which is why understanding and getting treatment for sleep apnea is so crucial."
[Obstructive sleep apnea and the risk of sudden cardiac death: A longitudinal study of 10,701 adults. (Gami et al., 2013 J Am Coll Cardiol.)]
3. Untreated sleep apnea slows recovery from heart attacks
"This study is noteworthy because it demonstrates that if you have untreated sleep apnea and experience a heart attack, your heart will not heal as well as a person's heart without sleep apnea," said Woehrle.
[Impact of sleep-disordered breathing on myocardial salvage and infarct size in patients with acute myocardial infarction. (Buchner et al., 2013 Eur Heart J.)]
4: Treatment for sleep apnea can reduce blood pressure
Treatment of sleep apnea with continuous positive air pressure (CPAP) therapy reduces blood pressure in sleep apnea patients, especially in patients whose blood pressure is difficult to control. Widely accepted as the gold standard, CPAP therapy involves wearing a mask or nasal pillows system connected to a small portable airflow generator that delivers air at positive pressure, creating an air splint to keep the airway open.
[Effect of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) on blood pressure in patients with obstructive sleep apnea/hypopnea. A systematic review and meta-analysis. (Fava et al., 2013 Chest)]
5: Sleep apnea is increasing among men and women — up to 1 in 4 adults
The latest data on the prevalence of sleep apnea in adults shows that the rates have gone up substantially over the last two decades. Among adults 30-70 years of age, it is estimated that 13 percent of men and 6 percent of women have moderate to severe sleep apnea, compared to the earlier results (9 percent of men and 4 percent of women). In addition, the number of those with at least mild sleep apnea has jumped for both men (26 to 34 percent) and women (13 to 17 percent).
[Increased Prevalence of Sleep-Disordered Breathing in Adults. (Peppard et al., 2013 Am J Epidemiol.)]
Together, the research findings demonstrate that untreated, sleep apnea can severely affect quality of life, health, and mortality. Sleep apnea continues to be strongly linked to a long list of life-threatening, chronic diseases such as cancer, stroke, heart failure, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and coronary artery disease as these and other studies continue to reveal. Untreated sleep apnea also has an association with depression, especially in women, and daytime drowsiness which increases the risk of accidents in the workplace and while driving.
Education remains a key obstacle to effective treatment. Studies indicate that in Europe, as many as 90 percent of people who have sleep apnea remain undiagnosed and untreated.
"It's not just a question of sleeping more," said Woehrle . "The key to improved health is sleeping better. Today, getting tested and receiving treatment for sleep apnea is easier than ever."
If you suspect that you or someone in your family might have sleep apnea, talk to a doctor or medical professional. Typical symptoms include constant tiredness, poor concentration, morning headaches, depressed mood, night sweats, weight gain, lack of energy, forgetfulness, sexual dysfunction, and frequent urination at night. For more information, visit www.resmed.com.
ResMed changes lives by developing, manufacturing and distributing medical equipment for treating, diagnosing, and managing sleep-disordered breathing, COPD, and other chronic diseases. We develop innovative products and solutions to improve the health and quality of life of those who suffer from these conditions, and we work to raise awareness of the potentially serious health consequences of untreated sleep-disordered breathing. For more information on ResMed, visit www.resmed.com
SOURCE ResMed Inc.