High Blood Pressure Improves from CPAP Therapy
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a consequence of untreated sleep apnea. Blood pressure is an important aspect of the cardiovascular system. If that pressure is too high it can lead to numerous complications that are both scary and life threatening.
CPAP therapy is a proven method of treating sleep apnea. Therefore, in a way CPAP is responsible for lowering blood pressure of its users.
What is High Blood Pressure?
High blood pressure, or HBP, is when the pressure of your body’s blood is consistently high. Blood pressure is much like the prescribed pressure of CPAP machines. It is the pressure in which the blood circulates through your veins. More than 85 million Americans have HBP, and a good portion of them don’t even know it.
There are 5 stages of blood pressure that were established by the American Heart Association:
- Normal blood pressure: Pressure that consistently ranges around 120/80mm Hg.
- Pre-hypertension: Pressure that consistently ranges from 120-139mm Hg. People at this stage can easily correct the issue, but are at risk of becoming worse if changes are not made.
- Hypertension Stage 1: Pressure consistently ranges from 140-159mm Hg. At this stage doctors are more likely to encourage lifestyle changes and consider adding medication to help.
- Hypertension Stage 2: Pressure consistently ranges at levels greater than 160/100mm Hg. At this stage lifestyle changes are required immediately, and medication will be prescribed.
- Hypertensive crisis: Pressure reaches 180/110mm Hg. This is when high blood pressure requires emergency medical attention!
“If your blood pressure is higher than 180/110 mm Hg and you are NOT experiencing symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, back pain, numbness/weakness, changes in vision or difficulty speaking, wait about five minutes and take it again. If the reading is still at or above that level, you should CALL 9-1-1 and get help immediately.” (High Blood Pressure-A Silent Killer)
What Causes High Blood Pressure?
Many factors can contribute to high blood pressure, including sleep apnea. Others include:
- Old age: as your age increases, the likelihood that you develop HBP increases.
- Genes/family history: genetics have a lot to do with your lifetime medical occurrences including blood pressure.
- Lack of exercise: physical activity helps maintain a healthy blood flow.
- Obesity: extra weight surrounding your veins and arteries increases pressure.
- Stress: studies have proven that stress coincides with an increase in pressure.
- Too much salt in your diet: cultures that have a known high-salt diet have higher percentages of people that struggle with HBP.
- Alcohol abuse: studies show that regular alcohol intake increases pressure.
- Smoking: nicotine causes blood vessels to shrink, therefore increasing pressure.
Complications of High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure can lead to…
- Heart attack: damages arteries that can become blocked and prevent blood flow to the heart muscle.
- Stroke: causes vessels in your brain to clog more easily or even burst.
- Heart failure: increased workload can cause the heart to enlarge and fail your body.
- Kidney disease or failure: damages the arteries around the kidneys and interfere with their ability to filter blood effectively.
- Angina: HBP can lead to heart disease or microvascular disease (MVD).
- Vision loss: strains or damages vessels in your eyes.
- Peripheral artery disease (PAD): causes a narrowing of arteries in the legs, arms, stomach and head, causing pain or fatigue.
- Sexual dysfunction: can lead to erectile dysfunction in men or lower libido in women.
CPAP Treatment Lowers Blood Pressure
One of the many factors that lead to high blood pressure is obstructive sleep apnea. OSA is a condition where you stop breathing multiple times per hour while you sleep. When you stop breathing your body cannot maintain the oxygen level in your blood that is needed for proper circulation. Therefore, OSA leads to an increase in blood pressure.
Physicians conducted a study to determine the effects of CPAP treatment on blood pressure. They were surprised to see such a quick turnaround with the treatment.
“Results show that there was a significant reduction in systolic and diastolic blood pressures among sleep apnea patients who were compliant with CPAP therapy for three months. Successful treatment of sleep apnea also was associated with decreased vascular tone and arterial stiffness. Following one week of treatment withdrawal, these improvements disappeared and reverted to baseline values.” (Press Release: CPAP Rapidly Improves Blood Pressure, June 1st, 2014)
CPAP treatment offers other benefits like:
- Reduced risk of heart disease
- Reduced risk of stroke
- Improved memory retention
- Improved energy & alertness
- Reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes
- Improved emotional stability
- “CPAP Rapidly Improves Blood Pressure and Arterial Tone in Adults with Sleep Apnea.” American Academy of Sleep Medicine – Association for Sleep Clinicians and Researchers, 23 Aug. 2017, aasm.org/cpap-rapidly-improves-blood-pressure-and-arterial-tone-in-adults-with-sleep-apnea/.
- “Health Threats From High Blood Pressure.” About Heart Attacks, 2016, www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/health-threats-from-high-blood-pressure.
- “High Blood Pressure – A Silent Killer.” Urban Views RVA: RVA’s Urban Internet Newspaper, 3 Oct. 2017, urbanviewsweekly.com/2017/05/16/high-blood-pressure-a-silent-killer/.
- Jaliman, Debra. “Causes of High Blood Pressure.” WebMD, WebMD, 2017, www.webmd.com/hypertension-high-blood-pressure/guide/blood-pressure-causes#1.
- Nordqvist, Christian. “High Blood Pressure: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment.” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, 28 Nov. 2017, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/159283.php.
- Reinberg, Steven. “Sleep Apnea Devices Lower Blood Pressure.” WebMD, WebMD, 1 Dec. 2015, www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/sleep-apnea/news/20151201/sleep-apnea-devices-lower-blood-pressure#1.