Sleep Apnea Treatment is Effective for Older People

A new study honed in on the elderly population published findings that CPAP therapy is effective in this older age group. Previous studies have established the benefits of CPAP in middle-aged people with OSA, but until now there has been no research on whether the treatment is useful and cost-effective for older patients.

The new research titled found that CPAP reduces how sleepy patients feel in the daytime and reduces health care costs. Researchers say CPAP should be offered routinely to older patients with OSA, and more should be done to raise awareness of the condition.

The study, published in Lancet Respiratory Medicine, titled “Continuous positive airway pressure in older people with obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome (PREDICT): a 12-month, multicentre, randomised trial”  involved 278 patients aged 65 or over at 14 NHS centers in the UK. It was led by researchers at Imperial College London and the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh in collaboration with the Medical Research Council Clinical Trials Unit at UCL, and the Universities of Oxford and York. It was funded by the National Institute for Health Research Health Technology Assessment (NIHR HTA) Programme.

Around 20% of the adult population experiences breathing problems during sleep. In 4%-5% of middle-aged people, these problems lead to sleepiness in the daytime, classified as obstructive sleep apnea syndrome. The condition is thought to be more common in older people, but the true prevalence is unknown, in part because patients and their relatives may attribute their sleepiness to old age, or older people can compensate by napping. The disease is becoming more common because obesity is a major risk factor.

Professor Mary Morrell, co-principal investigator of the study from the National Heart and Lung Institute at Imperial College London, said: “Sleep apnea can be hugely damaging to patients’ quality of life and increase their risk of road accidents, heart disease and other conditions. Lots of older people might benefit from this treatment. Many patients feel rejuvenated after using CPAP because they’re able to sleep much better and it may even improve their brain function.”

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