On World Sleep Day, you will notice many sleep health awareness activities being planned. You will find experts talking about the importance of sleep and its connection with your health. Now, a study has come up that revealed that there is a specific type of drug that can help people with sleep apnea. The study by Columbia University researchers have suggested that statins, which are drugs for lowering cholesterol, may reduce heart disease in people with obstructive sleep apnea.
Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAC) therapy is known for improving sleep quality. It also reduces fatigue during daytime in people with obstructive sleep apnea. But going by findings from recent clinical trials, this therapy does not improve heart health, as per the Columbia University researchers.
So, there is a need for medical experts to look for alternative methods to reduce heart disease in people with sleep apnea. It is urgently needed, because the condition is known to triple the risk of having
• Heart attack
• Another cardiovascular event that’s serious.
Statins and sleep apnea
According to the new study, which is led by Sanja Jelic, MD, associate professor of medicine at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, statins may be a method to improve heart health of people with sleep apnea.
About 87 people with obstructive sleep apnea were included in the study. The participants, who were being treated with CPAP, were randomised to get treatment with either statins or a placebo.
The researchers found that it was statins and not CPAP that protected blood vessels against dangerous inflammatory changes that happen in people with sleep apnea.
What are statins?
Experts always tell people to make lifestyle changes to reduce cholesterol. But if we talk about medicines, statins are prescribed by doctors, as they can help to lower the level of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in the blood. Most of us know LDL cholesterol as the “bad cholesterol”. According to National Health Service, statins reduce the production of bad cholesterol inside the liver.
If you have a high level of LDL cholesterol, it can be dangerous for you. It can lead to narrowing and hardening of the arteries and cardiovascular disease (CVD), as per NHS.
The main types of CVD you should be aware of include
• Coronary heart disease
• Heart attack
You might be told to take statins if either
• You have been diagnosed with CVD
• Your family and personal medical history suggests that you might develop CVD at some point in life.
Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome
When you have frequent pauses in breathing while sleeping and also snore loudly, that’s called obstructive sleep apnea syndrome. According to World Health Organization, the pauses in breathing cut off the oxygen supply to your body just for a few seconds. They also halt the removal of carbon dioxide from your body. Due to this, your brain briefly wakes you up. It re-opens the airways and helps to re-start breathing. All this takes place just for a few seconds, but it does seem to be very disturbing. It can happen many times during the night, so it makes it hard to get a proper sleep. Since you don’t get a good night’s sleep, during the day you may feel excessive daytime sleepiness. There may be difficulty in concentrating also accompanied by headaches at times.