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Weight Loss Tied to Improved Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Update Date: Feb 11, 2014 11:51 AM EST
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Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a health condition that affects airflow during sleep. People with OSA suffer from narrowed or blocked passageways that affect proper breathing that lead to apnea episodes. Several studies have identified obesity as a huge contributor to OSA. In a new study, researchers examined the effects of weight loss for people with OSA. The researchers found that even moderate weight loss can help and even cure OSA symptoms in the long-run.

The study was conducted between 2004 and 2019 by researchers from the Kuopio University Hospital in Finland and the University of Eastern Finland. The participants were all moderately obese adults that were diagnosed with mild OSA. The participants were split into two groups. One group received a 12-month supervised program that included lifestyle interventions, which helped the participants carry out healthier habits. The other group received standard care in written and verbal forms.

The researchers theorized that weight loss as small as five percent could prevent OSA from worsening if the OSA was detected in its early stages. The researchers discovered in the four-year follow up that people who underwent a five percent weight loss and sustained it were able to prevent their OSA symptoms from worsening. The researches also reported that the moderate weight loss has the potential to cure the condition in the long run.

The findings are promising since OSA has become a larger burden on health care systems over the past few years. OSA has been tied to increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular morbidity. Currently, there have been very limited studies on how to prevent OSA from worsening. This study suggests that losing weight and maintaining it could be extremely beneficial. However, more research still needs to be conducted.

"The impact of weight reduction in the prevention of the progression of obstructive sleep apnea - explanatory analysis of a 4-year observational follow-up trial," was published in Sleep Medicine.

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