“The prevalence of sleep apnea in patients with resistant [high blood pressure] is very high,” said lead researcher Dr. Miguel-Angel Martinez-Garcia, from the Polytechnic University Hospital in Valencia.
“This [sleep apnea] treatment increases the probability of recovering the normal nocturnal blood pressure pattern,” he said.
Patients with resistant high blood pressure should undergo a sleep study to rule out obstructive sleep apnea, Martinez-Garcia said. “If the patient has sleep apnea, he should be treated with CPAP and undergo blood pressure monitoring.”
The report, published in the Dec. 11 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, was partly funded by Philips-Respironics, maker of the CPAP system used in the study.
The CPAP system consists of a motor that pushes air through a tube connected to a mask that fits over the patient’s mouth and nose. The device keeps the airway from closing, and thus allows continuous sleep.
Sleep apnea is a common disorder. The pauses in breathing that patients experience can last from a few seconds to minutes and they can occur 30 times or more an hour.
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