12/03/2002 - News

Sleep apnoea should be treated

By: Susan Aldridge, medical journalist, PhD


A study by doctors in Spain shows that untreated sleep apnoea leads to increased mortality.

In obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA), a person stops breathing many hundreds of times in the night, because of an obstruction in the upper airway. While it's known that OSA increases the risk of accidents and heart disease, it hasn't been clear if this translates into a higher mortality rate.

Researchers in Barcelona, Spain, studied a group of 444 patients with OSA - some of whom had been treated, while the rest went untreated. They found that untreated patients had a mortality rate three times the average. Most of the excess mortality was due to heart disease, with the main risk being in those under 50 and those with co-existing lung disease.

However, the mortality rate among those treated for OSA was no greater than in the rest of the population. This study underlines the importance of diagnosing and treating OSA wherever possible.


European Respiratory Journal December 2002

Created on: 12/03/2002
Reviewed on: 12/03/2002

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