Another Reason to Keep Using Your CPAP Machine

March 31, 2013

This is a guest post by Paul.

Although numerous studies and mountains of anecdotal evidence have proven the positive health benefits of continual and dedicated use of the Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine for people with Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) compliance continues to be an issue. However, continuing studies and research into the long-term potential health consequences are now showing a link to cancer.

A two-decade study shows that people with severe sleep apnea could be four times as likely to die of cancer as people without the condition.This is just one more level in the mounting evidence for reasons to keep using your CPAP machine.

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A study in a recent issue of JAMA found a stronger benefit. Dr. José M. Marin, MD, a respiratory specialist at Hospital Universitario in Zaragoza, Spain led an observational 12-year study that followed 1,889 patients without hypertension. The study suggested that apnea patients who used a CPAP machine where less likely to develop hypertension than the study participants that refused treatment or otherwise did not wear a CPAP machine as prescribed. The study showed that the more the study participants adhered to the recommended CPAP machine use per night, the more protective the treatment.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) compliance guidelines set the standard for reimbursement under Medicare for patients with OSA that purchase and use a CPAP machine. The Medicare definition of compliance is using the CPAP machine at least four hours per night 70 percent of the time in a 30-day period, which is verified by physician verification of symptomatic improvement. This compliance guideline is also the baseline for most insurance carriers in the U.S.

Since most people that suffer from OSA go undiagnosed, it is always a good idea to reiterate what it is. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is when there are constantly repeated episodes of a complete (apnea) or partial blockage (hypoxia) of the upper airway during sleep.

With hundreds of these episodes happening a night, the individuals’ flow of oxygen to vital organs is diminished to the point where it can contribute to high blood pressure, increased risk of stroke and a growing amount of evidence for increased risk of various cancers among other long-term health conditions.

At the heart of all of these conditions is diminished oxygen. Our bodies and brains need oxygenation on a cellular level. While it is not yet universally agreed upon by all leading science and medical quarters, the leading hypothesis is that this disruption of oxygen intake, which robs cells of needed oxygen, a condition called hypoxia, is at the heart of the long-term complications of OSA when it comes to its possible link to Cancer. Some studies show sleep apnea induced hypoxemia as a critical factor in cognitive decline.

The current gold standard treatment for OSA is the CPAP machine, which delivers mild air pressure through a nasal mask to keep the person’s airways open throughout sleep. Those with OSA must remember that compliance rules at their core are about the patient getting the maximum health benefits from the use of a CPAP machine.

More research will surely be compiled to further the understanding of the link between the importance of sleep and the overall health of a person.Yet, even today, the evidence clearly points to CPAP therapy and the use of a CPAP machine as a critical factor in eliminating apnea incidents and reversing negative effects of sleep deprivation.

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