Weight Loss May Help Sleep Apnea Symptoms06/06/11
MONDAY, June 6 (HealthDay News) -- Many people who suffer from
obstructive sleep apnea could eliminate the condition by losing a
significant amount of weight, a new study suggests.
Without realizing it, people with sleep apnea wake up multiple
times throughout the night as they struggle to breathe. The
condition can cause severe daytime tiredness and other symptoms. In
many cases, patients are treated with continuous positive airway
pressure (CPAP), a treatment that uses a machine to keep their
airways open during sleep.
According to Dr. Virend Somers, a professor of medicine and
cardiovascular diseases at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.,
there seems to be a connection between sleep apnea and extra
pounds. But exactly how they're related is not exactly clear, he
said. "Although the majority of patients are obese, not everyone
with sleep apnea is obese," said Somers, who was not involved with
the new study.
Physicians do know that "as you gain weight, sleep apnea gets
worse, and as you lose, it improves," Somers noted. Obesity may
affect the airway's ability to stay open during sleep, or extra fat
cells could affect the brain's control of the airway, he
In the new study, published online June 1 in
BMJ, researchers led by Kari Johansson of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm tracked 63 male sleep apnea patients, aged 30 to 65, who were overweight. Of those, 58 completed a version of the Cambridge Weight Plan, which started with a very low-calorie diet for nine weeks, followed by a year-long program of weight-maintenance counseling. The Cambridge Weight Plan provided partial funding for the study.
After a year, about half of the patients who lost weight and
kept it off no longer needed a CPAP machine to keep their airways
open during sleep, and sleep apnea went away in 10 percent of
Somers noted that it's unlikely that the specific diet approach
itself was important. "I'm not aware of any interaction between
what you eat and sleep apnea," he said. Instead, it's likely that
simply losing weight did the trick, he explained.
For more about
sleep apnea, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
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