New York: There is a strong link between severe, untreated obstructive sleep apnea and the risk of elevated blood pressure despite the use of high blood pressure medications, an alarming study indicates.
The study involved patients who had cardiovascular risk factors or established heart disease and moderate or severe obstructive sleep apnea.
Among participants prescribed at least three antihypertensives including a diuretic, resistant elevated blood pressure was more prevalent in those with severe sleep apnea (58.3 percent) compared with moderate sleep apnea (28.6 percent).
Further analysis found that the odds of resistant elevated blood pressure were four times higher in participants with severe, untreated obstructive sleep apnea.
“Our findings suggest that severe obstructive sleep apnea contributes to poor blood pressure control despite aggressive medication use,” said first author Harneet Walia, an assistant professor from Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University.
“High blood pressure that is resistant to treatment with medications is a strong warning sign for the presence of obstructive sleep apnea - a chronic disease that increases the risk for heart disease and stroke,” added Timothy Morgenthaler, president of American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
Over one-third of patients with hypertension and nearly eight out of 10 patients with treatment resistant hypertension have obstructive sleep apnea.
“People who have high blood pressure should talk to a doctor about their risk for sleep apnea,” researchers added.
The results were published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.