Hypertension and Sleep Apnea: A Connection


Humans can breathe, speak, and swallow thanks to their airways. They lack any bony structures, which allows them to be flexible, and are made up entirely of soft muscles and tissues. A defect in the framework, such as fat buildup around the tongue or soft palate, may be to blame for this passage collapsing during sleep, in addition to loss of muscle tone. In their sleep, they choke as a result of this.

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which causes the body to repeatedly wake up and gasp to open the airways, is a choking sensation. As a defense mechanism, this is.

How does OSA lead to hypertension?

Sleep apnea has been linked to high blood pressure by many researchers. The autonomic nervous and hormonal systems, which regulate BP, become active when oxygen levels in the body are low. High BP is caused by the body changing and the blood vessels starting to narrow.

Hypertension affects nearly half of OSA sufferers. This connection is so strong that the Joint National Committee on High Blood Pressure named sleep apnea as a contributing factor to secondary hypertension as a result.

Empirical Evidence Linking OSA with Hypertension

According to a study that appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine, people in their middle years who did not receive treatment for obstructive sleep apnea had a 2 to 3 fold increased risk of developing high blood pressure over the course of an 8-year period.

According to a Canadian study, the likelihood of developing hypertension increased by 1% for each episode of sleep apnea per hour. Additionally, the likelihood of developing hypertension increased by 13% for every 10% decrease in nighttime oxygen levels. The Sleep Heart Health Study also discovered that nighttime blood pressure and both systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings were higher in patients with severe OSA. High blood pressure increased proportionally to how severe and prevalent OSA was. The blood pressure of these people was also higher during the day.

How does treating OSA lower the chance of getting hypertension?

Using Continuous Positive Airway Pressure to treat OSA has a beneficial impact on lowering the risk of developing hypertension. To keep the airways from closing during sleep, CPAP therapy pumps small streams of air into the body. Numerous studies have shown that those who use nasal CPAP therapy to treat their moderate-to-severe sleep apnea have lower blood pressure readings both during the day and at night.

Patients with high blood pressure and OSA who weren’t responding to conventional therapy were given CPAP therapy for 12 weeks as part of the HIPARCO trial study, which was carried out in several centers. Both a 24-hour mean and diastolic blood pressure decreased as a result of this. Additionally, it enhanced nocturnal blood pressure patterns. For a significant drop in blood pressure, the CPAP machine must be used for 4 hours every night.

What advantages does CPAP have for hypertension patients?

CPAP use lowers blood pressure in all patients, whether or not they are taking antihypertensive drugs. The advantages of using CPAP are not shared by patients who choose to forgo it in favor of supplemental oxygen.

The symptoms of sleep apnea and its comorbidities, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease, are effectively reduced by CPAP use.

You should see a qualified sleep physician to rule out sleep apnea if you have high blood pressure and are unable to get a good night’s sleep.

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