Effect of CPAP use on blood pressure in patients with sleep apnea

The use of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy is the most commonly used treatment option for sleep apnea. While it can be a successful form of treatment, not all patients wear the mask throughout the night. However, a new study published in the Journal of Hypertension shows that use of the CPAP machine did have a long-term impact on a patient’s health by reducing blood pressure.

With this information, we can further look at the long-term impact of oral appliance therapy for the health of our patients and a reduction in blood pressure and hypertension. It is apparent that the use of treatment of sleep apnea is key in protecting patients and their health in the long-run.  

The impact of treatment

This study looked to evaluate the impact of long-term use of CPAP on clinic and ambulatory blood pressure (BP) in patients with resistant hypertension (RHT) and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). It observed 66 patients with RHT and moderate/severe OSA, using CPAP for at least a year. Clinic BP and 24-hour BP were obtained before and after follow-up.

The results showed that the average use of CPAP treatment was five hours per night with 78 percent using it at least four hours per night. There was a significant reduction of 24-hour and daytime systolic ambulatory BP. And controlled BP increased from 39 percent to 57 percent.

It was concluded that the treatment of OSA with long-term use of CPAP significantly reduces BP among patients with resistant hypertension. This is especially true with uncontrolled ambulatory BP at the baseline. What this means is that treatment is essential in not only improving OSA, but hypertension and BP too.

And while this study does not cover oral appliance therapy, we can assume the same can be said for continued use of an oral appliance. This is definitely something we need to keep an eye on and look further into. But it is clear that treatment of sleep apnea is essential to overall health and well-being.

Can Sleep Apnea Treatment Improve PTSD in Veterans?

I recently read an article on a study focusing on CPAP treatment and PTSD in veterans. In this study, researchers found that post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms improved in veterans with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) who were treated with CPAP therapy. After reading this article, my question is: will oral appliance therapy have the same results? I definitely think the chances are high!

The Study

There were 47 veterans recruited, with 40 completing the study. Of those participating, 20 had mild-to-moderate PTSD and 18 had severe-to-very severe PTSD. Researchers found that improvements in PTSD correlated with the duration of CPAP usage, and veterans with severe-to-very-severe PTSD had larger improvements in symptoms.

The only significant predictor of overall improvement in PTSD symptoms was the amount of time the veterans used the CPAP machine. The findings of this study indicate that treatment of OSA reduced PTSD severity and diminished frequency of nightmares. With prolonged CPAP use, veterans continued to experience an improvement in PTSD symptoms.

Oral Appliance Therapy

While there doesn’t seem to be an available study on the use of oral appliance therapy in veterans with PTSD and OSA, we can use CPAP therapy as an example. For veterans with PTSD symptoms, he/she might be CPAP non-compliant or just not like the treatment. The availability of oral appliance therapy for our patients allows us to successfully treat OSA, while also potentially improving PTSD symptoms in veterans–it’s worth the try!

Contact my office to learn more about oral appliance therapy and what we as dentists can do to help our patients.