Sleep Apnoea Treatment May Ease High Blood Pressure

Sleep Apnoea Treatment May Ease High Blood Pressure

If you have high blood pressure, you're probably on a doctor-backed eating and exercise plan to help lower those BP numbers. But did you know your sleep-or lack thereof-may be one of the root causes of your hypertension? If you experience excessive daytime sleepiness, concentration problems, dry mouth, choking sensations during sleep and loud snoring (and not to mention a grumpy partner), you may have sleep apnoea, which is a major contributor to high blood pressure.

During sleep apnoea, patients have repeated lapses in breathing that may range from a few seconds to minutes and occur as much as 30 or more times an hour. Those pauses cut off oxygen to the brain and raise blood pressure, which over time can lead to heart disease and other cardiovascular problems. Luckily, the treatments that help ease sleep apnoea may reduce high blood pressure, too.

How sleep apnoea treatments help hypertension

A recent analysis looked at over 51 studies to see how continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) and mandibular advancement devices (MADs)-two popular sleep apnoea treatments-affect blood pressure. The research found that both treatments reduce systolic and diastolic blood pressure (the top and bottom numbers in a reading), with CPAP showing a stronger ability to ease systolic blood pressure. In addition to lowering blood pressure, both treatments offer several benefits, from improved quality of sleep to less fatigue and more daily energy.

How CPAP works: For CPAP, patients don a machine-connected-mask that uses mild air pressure to prevent the airways from collapsing during sleep. CPAP is considered the best sleep apnoea treatment and is generally effective in treating all kinds of sleep apnoea, from mild to severe.

How MADs work: MADs are mouthpieces that pull the jaw forward to help keep the airway open during sleep. And because CPAPs can be difficult to adjust to-some patients never get used to the noise the machine makes or the face mask itself-MADs are considered a good alternative. MADs can help with mild or moderate sleep apnoea but may not be the best option for severe sleep apnoea.

How to know if you have sleep apnoea

Sleep apnoea can have serious health consequences, which is why you should tell your doctor if you think you or a loved one has the condition. Look out for these warning signs:

? A rise in high blood pressure numbers

? Problems with memory or concentration

? Feeling tired when you wake up

? Exhaustion or falling asleep throughout the day

? Waking with sore throat or headache

? Frequent partner complaints about your snoring

Note, though, that sleep apnoea treatments may not be enough to control your high blood pressure. Medication is often necessary. Discuss with your doctor the best way to treat both your BP and sleep apnoea.

Sources: Sharecare Editorial Team; The Sleep Apnoea Association of NZ

Daniel J. Bratton, P., Thomas Gaisl, M., Annette M. Wons, M., & al, e. (2015). CPAP vs Mandibular Advancement Devices and Blood Pressure in Patients With Obstructive Sleep Apnea A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA., 314(21):2280-2293.

Last reviewed: May 2019

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