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Lifestyle Intervention May Cure Sleep Apnea

Lifestyle intervention with weight reduction effective to treat mild obstructive sleep apnea

MONDAY, Feb. 16 (HealthDay News) -- Lifestyle intervention including weight reduction is an effective and potentially curative first-line treatment for a majority of patients with obstructive sleep apnea, researchers report in the Feb. 15 issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Henri P.I. Tuomilehto, M.D., Ph.D., of Kuopio University Hospital in Finland, and colleagues conducted a prospective study in which 72 patients were randomized to an intervention group (a very low calorie diet in conjunction with supervised lifestyle counseling) or a control group (routine lifestyle counseling). Patients were overweight with mild obstructive sleep apnea. Sleep apnea symptoms were measured using the apnea-hypopnea index.

After three months, significantly more patients in the intervention group were considered cured compared with the control group (61 percent versus 32 percent); this superiority was maintained at the one-year follow-up, the researchers report. Patients in the intervention group were less likely to have mild obstructive sleep apnea at follow-up (OR, 0.24), leading to an improved quality of life. Further, the intervention group also experienced reductions in waist circumference and weight, the report indicates.

"Lifestyle intervention with an early very low calorie diet is a feasible, low-cost and curative treatment for the vast majority of patients with mild obstructive sleep apnea, and it can be implemented in a primary care setting after diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea. Weight reduction also results in an improvement of obesity-related risk factors for cardiovascular diseases," the authors conclude.

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