Health & Wellness

Sleep Apnea Treatment Could Be Good for Your Heart

Researchers have found that a CPAP machine can lower your resting heart rate

By Wendy Haaf


If you have prediabetes and sleep apnea, using a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine at night might help fend off heart disease and premature death, which otherwise are higher-risk outcomes for these two conditions.

That’s the hope offered by study results published in the Journal of the American Heart Association. In the controlled trial, 39 people with the dual diagnosis were randomly assigned to either an oral placebo or all-night, in-laboratory CPAP for two weeks. Otherwise, all participants carried out their usual activities while wearing a device that tracked their pulse rates.

Among CPAP users, daytime resting heart rate—a predictor of premature all-cause and cardiovascular death—dropped by four to five beats per minute.

“That’s significant,” Dr. Esra Tasali, director of the Sleep Research Center at the University of Chicago Medicine, said in a statement. She noted that a drop of even one beat per minute in resting heart rate can lower the risk for heart disease.

“A four- to five-beat-per-minute drop in heart rate that we observed is comparable to what you would get from regular exercise,” she added.

Researchers said that the study’s findings are especially timely, given that people with diabetes or cardiovascular problems are among the most vulnerable to COVID-19.

“Any way we can improve cardiovascular health is more important than ever these days,” Tasali said.

Photo: Shutterstock/Independence_Project.