CPAP

  1. CPAP doesn’t cut sleep apnea risks

    A machine won’t solve your sleep issues

    Everyone loves a shortcut.

    I know I sure do. There’s not much better than saving a little time – because that’s the one thing we can’t make more of.

    But when it comes to your health, there are no shortcuts.

    If you’re battling a chronic health problem, you need to take care of it the right way – or your shortcut could become a dead end.

    New research shows how that’s especially true of sleep apnea, the chronic condition where you stop breathing in the night for 10 or more seconds at a time, dozens or even hundreds of times per night.

    Those little lapses of oxygen can do lasting damage inside your body, increasing the risk of serious health problems including heart attack.

    The shortcut to easing the condition is a CPAP machine, or a breathing mask that delivers a steady flow of oxygen while you sleep so you’re never cut off – in theory stopping the damage of apnea.

    Problem solved, right?

    Wrong!

    Turns out, that extra oxygen doesn’t do much of anything for sleep apnea patients with heart disease. There’s no cut in the risk of heart problems, stroke, hospitalization due to heart problems, or even death.

    The machine wasn’t completely useless. Folks in the study who used it were less tired during the day and had less anxiety and a better mood as a result.

    On the other hand, the machine is uncomfortable and tough to sleep with, and many of them consistently woke up at night to tear it off.

    Can you blame them? It’s like sleeping inside a noisy Halloween costume.

    It would be one thing to put up with all that discomfort if it actually did its job and saved lives. But without that major benefit, this is a shortcut that ultimately leads to nowhere.

    So consider CPAP a temporary measure at best.

    If you really want to sleep better at night and make sure your body gets the oxygen it needs to protect the heart, you’re going to have to take the long way.

    You’re going to have to lose some weight.

    Obesity is the single biggest cause of apnea, and losing the extra weight will almost always ease the disease. Even just a little weight loss can bring big benefits when it comes to sleep.

    But don’t settle for just a little weight loss. Keep at it – keep working, and you won’t just cut the risks that come along for the ride with sleep apnea.

    You’ll also be better able to prevent or control diabetes and cut your risk of heart disease, stroke, dementia, and more.

    While you work on your waistline, or if you’re at a normal weight but still have apnea, you can look into a dental device that keeps the airway open at night.

    There are dentists who specialize in customizing the correct fit for you.

  2. Apnea surgery is the wrong approach

    When it comes to apnea, skip the surgery

    There's a simple, safe, inexpensive and highly effective way to cure sleep apnea -- and I'll get to that in a moment.

    But first, the cure you don't need.

    It's a pacemaker, surgically implanted in the chest.

    It's being called "minimally invasive," but I think that's a stretch -- because along with the device itself, there are electrodes that extend down into the muscles of your ribs and up into the nerve that's under the tongue.

    Wave a magnet over it before bedtime, and the pacemaker clicks on -- and as the electrode in your ribs tracks your breathing, the other one zaps the nerve under your tongue, keeping your airways open.

    For many patients, it works. It cuts apnea events -- when you stop breathing in the night -- by 68 percent, and reduces the risk of low oxygen in the blood by 70 percent, according to one study on the device.

    And since patients sleep better at night, they report a 40 percent improvement in daytime sleepiness.

    But this seems crazy to me. It's a pacemaker, zapping you in the night -- and yes, you do feel it. Forty percent of patients said it was uncomfortable. (On the other hand, it's probably more comfortable than CPAP -- the oxygen masks many apnea patients are given to sleep with.)

    The truth is any kind of surgery comes with risks, as will trying to live with a magnetically activated device implanted in your chest and electrodes running through your body.

    Like I said earlier, there's a much easier way to beat apnea -- and all you have to do is lose some weight. Up to 90 percent of all apnea cases are caused by obesity, and losing the extra weight will almost always ease or even cure the condition.

    Weight loss is also noninvasive and inexpensive -- and along with curing your apnea, it will also help you to stay healthy and avoid diabetes, heart disease and an early death.

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  3. Sleep apnea linked to massive increase in cancer risk

    People with severe sleep apnea are nearly 500 percent more likely to die of cancer than people without the condition. Find out how to sleep better every night.
  4. Fix your apnea, heal your heart

    Someone with apnea can go through dozens of breathless bouts per night and never even realize it -- but in this case, what you don't know can not only hurt you... it can kill you, too. Apnea has been linked to everything from sexual dysfunction and metabolic syndrome to diabetes and heart disease -- but now, researchers have confirmed that it's not too late for people already fighting that nightly battle.

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