Up to 60% of people with cardiovascular disease also have sleep apnea — meaning they briefly and repeatedly stop breathing while sleeping. But treating the latter can help with the former, a new study suggests. Researchers found that heart disease patients with apnea who were hospitalized for heart problems were 60% less likely to end up back in the hospital within a month if they were diligent about managing their apnea.
The analysis looked at Medicare data from 1,301 heart disease patients (average age 73) who were diagnosed with sleep apnea and put on CPAP therapy — which uses air pressure through a mask to keep the airway open while sleeping — and who were hospitalized for heart issues within two years of the apnea diagnosis. About 10% of participants were readmitted to the hospital within 30 days of that hospitalization. But the readmission rate was far lower for the participants who consistently used CPAP therapy compared with those who didn't. The study, published online Aug. 8, 2022, by Clinical Sleep Medicine, underscored how effectively treating sleep apnea can help improve outcomes and lower health care costs for heart patients, the researchers said.
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