Weight loss can help treat obstructive sleep apnea in obese patients

February 6th, 2009 - 5:45 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Feb 6 (ANI): Overweight people with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) should start losing weight, for thats the most effective way to reduce OSA symptoms and associated disorders, according to a new study.

Weight loss is an exciting therapy for sufferers of OSA both because of its short- and long-term effectiveness and its relatively modest price tag.

Other procedures to cure the disease are either too costly, unwieldy or have poor patient compliance. Also OSA is generally only treated when it has progressed to a moderate to severe state.

“Very low calorie diet (VLCD) combined with active lifestyle counseling resulting in marked weight reduction is a feasible and effective treatment for the majority of patients with mild OSA, and the achieved beneficial outcomes are maintained at 1-year follow-up,” wrote Henri P.I. Tuomilehto, M.D., Ph.D., of the department of Otorhinolaryngology at the Kuopio University Hospital in Finland.

The researchers conducted a randomised trial on 81 patients with mild OSA.

They found that the 40 patients who were in the intervention arm and underwent a diet that strictly limited caloric intake combined with lifestyle counselling, had lost more than 20 pounds on average in a year and maintained it, resulting in markedly lower symptoms of OSA.

The 41 patients in the control arm, who only received lifestyle counselling and lost on average less than 6 pounds, and were much less likely to see improvements in their OSA.

Other than improving OSA, sustained weight loss also improves many other independently linked co-morbidities such as hypertension, high cholesterol, and diabetes.

“This is emphasized by our findings that, in conjunction with the improvement in AHI, significant improvements were also found in symptoms related to OSA, insulin resistance, lipids, and cardiorespiratory variables, such as arterial oxygen saturation, in patients belonging to the intervention group,” wrote Tuomilehto.

He added: “The greater the change in body weight or waist circumference, the greater was the improvement in OSA.”

“This appears to be a fairly straightforward relationship, and while we would not necessarily recommend the severe caloric restriction used in our study to every patient, one of the first treatment for OSA that should be considered in the overweight patient is clearly weight loss.

The study has been published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, one of the American Thoracic Society’’s three peer-reviewed journals. (ANI)

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