Losing even a little weight can make a big difference when it comes to preventing or even curing obstructive sleep apnea, researchers have found.
According to a 4-year Finish study published in the journal Sleep Medicine, losing as little as five percent of body weight is enough to prevent the disease from worsening. It can even alleviate it in moderately obese and overweight individuals who suffer from the sleep disorder, which significantly boosts the risk of heart disease.
The study was conducted at Kuopio University Hospital, Finland, in collaboration with researchers from the University of Eastern Finland who tracked the effects of weight-loss on sleep apnea patients over a 9-year period beginning in 2004.
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"This study provides first time long-term evidence that even a modest weight reduction can result in marked improvements of [apnea] and metabolism in overweight patients, and these positive changes are sustained even four years after the cessation of the active intervention, and the progression of the disease is thus prevented," the researchers concluded.
Sleep apnea been linked with metabolic abnormalities, particularly Type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Obesity is a primarily risk factor for apnea, with even overweight individuals facing high risks for the condition and related disorders.
Treatment typically involves the use of CPAP devices — short for continuous positive airway pressure — but the new study suggests weight loss may present a viable alternative.
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