An important new study has determined that while CPAP machines reduce the incidence of breathing interruptions which are the signature symptom of sleep apnea, they do not seem to cause a concurrent reduction in heart risk.
These findings are important because they were discovered under a strong research design, which included a randomized study. And they are important because the results were so unequivocal:
[I]n terms of cardiovascular emergencies, the patients using CPAP in addition to following a usual care plan showed no differences from the usual care-only patients after more than three years, on average. Specifically, 17% of patients in the CPAP group and 15.4% in the usual-care group had some kind of serious heart event.
As many have pointed out, the CPAP does offer a number of collateral benefits which cannot be so easily quantified, including an improvement in energy level and mood, as well as some strong results indicating improved mental clarity and recall.
But it’s a blow for the device, which many people begin using for the express purpose of mitigating the heart risks associated with obstructive sleep apnea.