Medical experts recommend 10 per cent as the weight loss needed to improve sleep apnea.

Obese people with sleep apnea may triple the chances of eliminating their sleep problems by losing weight, a new study suggests.

Losing about 10 per cent of their body weight was enough to bring on total or near-total remission, said Gary Foster, head of the Center for Obesity Research and Education at Temple University in Philadelphia, and lead author of the study.

“It’s been clear that obesity increases the risk of sleep apnea but less clear that if obese people or people with type 2 diabetes lost weight, it would result in significant improvements in their sleep apnea — and it did,” said Foster.

Shallow breathing

People who are overweight or obese are more likely to have obstructive sleep apnea, a condition in which a person’s breathing stops or becomes very shallow, sometimes several hundred times a night and sometimes for as long as a minute, according to the American Sleep Apnea Association.

“The soft palate in the back of the mouth falls down and blocks the airway,” said Mitchell Roslin, chief of bariatric surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

“When you get to people with serious levels of obesity, it’s virtually impossible to find those without (this type of) sleep apnea.”

This condition can lead to cardiovascular problems, including stroke, and can also increase the risk for dying prematurely.

Most experts too recommend 10 per cent as the weight loss needed to improve sleep apnea.

It’s common sense!

The study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, confirms what common sense and experience have shown.

“When patients gain five to 10 pounds, their sleep apnea is much worse. If they lose five to 10 pounds, the sleep apnea is much better,” said Hormoz Ashtyani, director of pulmonary critical care and sleep medicine at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey.

“It’s usually not a resolution, but it’s a significant improvement.”



Redefining obesity's health risksOctober 20, 2009

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