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Longer Treatment Benefits Sleep Apnea Patients

Date:
June 8, 2007
Source:
NIH/National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute
Summary:
Adults with obstructive sleep apnea benefit significantly from longer nightly use of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), a device to improve breathing during sleep, according to a new study. This is the first study to identify the nightly duration of CPAP use needed to gain maximum benefit for daytime alertness and functioning.
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Adults with obstructive sleep apnea benefit significantly from longer nightly use of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), a device to improve breathing during sleep, according to a new study supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health. This is the first study to identify the nightly duration of CPAP use needed to gain maximum benefit for daytime alertness and functioning.

Researchers at seven sleep centers in the United States and Canada studied 149 adults with sleep apnea to determine how long they routinely used CPAP each night. In addition, patients were evaluated for daytime symptoms such as excessive daytime sleepiness using two widely accepted assessment tools, and for daytime functioning using a standardized test before treatment and after three months of CPAP therapy.  The findings suggest that most patients should use CPAP for at least 7.5 hours each night to realize the greatest possible benefits of therapy.

More than 12 million adult Americans are believed to have sleep apnea, a common disorder in which the upper airway is intermittently narrowed during sleep, causing breathing to be difficult or even completely blocked. The CPAP device is worn while the patient sleeps and works by blowing just enough air into the nose to keep the patient's throat open.

Because they often find the CPAP device cumbersome, many patients do not use it consistently or for long enough periods while sleeping.  In the current study, for example, patients used CPAP on average about 5 hours a night. The researchers found that although daytime sleepiness could be improved after 4 hours to 6 hours a night, depending on the measurement used, functional status or quality-of-life improvements were maximized after 7.5 hours of use each night. Although individual patient response to CPAP therapy can vary, these latest findings provide a yardstick to help clinicians assess whether a patient's use is optimal.

In addition to NHLBI, support for the study was provided by Respironics, Inc., Nellcor Puritan Bennett Inc., DeVilbiss Health Care Inc., and Healthyne Technologies, Inc.

The article, "Relationship Between Hours of CPAP Use and Achieving Normal Levels of Sleepiness and Daily Functioning," is published in the June issue of the journal SLEEP.


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The above post is reprinted from materials provided by NIH/National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


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NIH/National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. "Longer Treatment Benefits Sleep Apnea Patients." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 June 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/06/070607112934.htm>.
NIH/National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. (2007, June 8). Longer Treatment Benefits Sleep Apnea Patients. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 28, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/06/070607112934.htm
NIH/National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. "Longer Treatment Benefits Sleep Apnea Patients." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/06/070607112934.htm (accessed August 28, 2015).

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