London: Getting treatment may not just help people with obstructive sleep apnea get a good night`s rest but also stave off heart failure, says a study.
Researchers discovered that moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea or OSA (characterised by abnormal pauses in breathing or abnormally low breathing during sleep) can cause changes in the heart`s shape and function, similar to the effects of hypertension.
These changes include increased mass, thickening of the heart wall and reduced pumping ability. But, six months after continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment, the abnormalities returned to near-normal measurements in sleep apnea patients, the journal Circulation: Heart Failure reported.
"Our findings imply that OSA could be crucial in the development of left ventricular diastolic dysfunction that can lead to heart failure and increased mortality if left untreated," said Gregory YH Lip, from University of Birmingham Centre for Cardiovascular Sciences, who led the study.
Researchers evaluated 40 patients with moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea and compared the results with those obtained from 40 people with high blood pressure and 40 healthy people, according to a university statement.
The OSA patients had abnormal cardiac structure and performance changes typically associated with chronic high blood pressure, even though their blood pressure was only moderately elevated.