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Troubled Slumber Can Hike Blood Pressure

But study finds common treatment helps lower nighttime pressure

FRIDAY, Oct. 11, 2002 (HealthDayNews) -- Sleep-disordered breathing increases blood pressure in people with untreated hypertension, but their nighttime blood pressure can be lowered using nasal continuous airway pressure treatment.

That's the finding of a study in the October issue of CHEST.

People with sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) experience repeated episodes of breathing pauses lasting 10 seconds or longer while they sleep. Those breathing pauses are caused by the complete or partial collapse of the upper airway passage or an abnormal decrease in depth of respiration associated with lowering of blood oxygen levels.

This study by University of Wisconsin researchers included 24 men, ages 30 to 60, with mild to moderate hypertension. Fourteen of them had SDB. The aim of the study was to determine if SDB had an effect on blood pressure.

The men in the study were given nasal continuous airway pressure (CPAP) treatment for 14 days. CPAP, a machine that provides a constant flow of air to the user, is the usual treatment for SDB.

Each of the men in the study had blood pressure readings taken before, during and after the CPAP treatment. The researchers found the men without SDB showed no significant change in their blood pressure. That showed that CPAP itself didn't alter blood pressure.

But nighttime blood pressure decreased in the men with SDB as a result of the CPAP treatment. The researchers say that shows that there is a connection between SDB and increased nighttime blood pressure levels in people with hypertension.

"Considering that sleep-disordered breathing is a very common problem yet often not diagnosed, it could be an unrecognized contributor to hypertension in some patients," says Dr. Udaya B.S. Prakash, president-elect of the American College of Chest Physicians.

More information

Learn more about sleep disorders at the National Sleep Foundation.

SOURCE: American College of Chest Physicians, news release, Oct. 8, 2002
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