Washington: Suffering from sleep apnea? Do not ignore it, better consult a doctor, for researchers claim that people with the condition have high blood fat levels and an increased risk of heart attack.
Sleep apnea is a condition in which people stop breathing momentarily while sleeping.
An international team, led by Sydney University, has found treatment with a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device reduced post-meal blood fat (triglyceride) levels, the `American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine` reported.
The researchers investigated blood fat levels across a 24-hour period after standard meals in 38 patients with sleep apnea. Patients were studied both before and after two months of CPAP and two months with a placebo CPAP device.
"We know that blood fat levels after meals are an important predictor of future cardiovascular disease. This research provides a possible reason why patients with sleep apnea are at increased risk of heart attacks and strokes," said lead author Dr Craig Phillips.
"Although the results need to be confirmed in larger studies, we estimate that the extent of the improvement in triglycerides with CPAP could reduce the risk for heart attack in these patients by as much as 25 per cent," he added.
Added co-author Prof Ron Grunstein said that another interesting aspect of the study was that triglyceride levels were particularly high in the middle of the night during sleep, almost seven hours after the evening meal.
"There may be an influence of the body clock that pushes up blood fat levels at these times," he added.