Sleep apnea treatment may help lower blood pressure

man with sleep apneaUsers of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) masks may experience more than relief from their sleep apnea symptoms: a small study suggests the device also may help lower blood pressure and arterial stiffness. In the study, which included 47 adults diagnosed with sleep apnea, those who used the device saw decreases in both systolic and diastolic blood pressures — the top and bottom numbers on a blood pressure reading — in three months of treatment. The improvements disappeared within a week of being off the device, which works by pushing pressurized air into the nose.

Sleep apnea, a sleep disorder marked by snoring, in which a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep, affects more than 18 million Americans and has been linked to increased heart risks. The research, which was presented at the Associated Professional Sleep Societies annual meeting in June, is preliminary. However, its results support the findings of other similar studies, including one published in the Journal of the American Medical Association at the end of 2013.