A new study finds strong links between severe, untreated obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and high blood pressure even for heart patients on blood pressure medication.
“The current findings suggest that severe OSA may contribute to poor blood pressure control despite aggressive medication use,” says sleep disorder specialist Harneet Walia, MD in the article from the Cleveland Clinic’s Brain and Spine team. She says the study suggests that better strategies to treat sleep apnea can improve blood pressure control. And, in turn, patients’ heart health should improve.
Of the 284 study subjects, those with serious apnea were four times more likely to have resistant elevated blood pressure – even though they were taking three or more medications, says Dr. Walia. All these patients either had or were at risk for cardiovascular disease.
“The study titled “Association of Severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Elevated Blood Pressure Despite Antihypertensive Use” is different because these are folks who had cardiovascular disease, and who were followed by cardiologists, yet severe apnea may have contributed to suboptimal blood pressure control,” says Walia.
“This is an important finding from a clinical perspective because patients with poor blood pressure control taking multiple anti-hypertensive medications are particularly vulnerable to increased cardiovascular risk. Strategies to treat obstructive sleep apnea should be strongly considered because the improved control in blood pressure could potentially lead to improvement in cardiovascular morbidity and mortality.”