A man is sleeping in bed. He is wearing one of many CPAP machines given to patients with sleep apnea.

Researchers call into question whether or not CPAP machines are effective at fighting heart conditions. 

Continuous positive airway pressure machines, or CPAP machines, are devices designed to help sleep apnea patients. It is effective at combating the symptoms of those with breathing problems or sleep apnea.

Since sleep apnea is a condition that can lead to other disorders, many scientists believe that CPAP treatments would be effective against them. However, a new study suggest that CPAP machines do not help to alleviate heart risk in those with sleep apnea.

CPAP Machines and Heart Risk

For years, scientists have noticed that there is a connection between sleep apnea and cardiovascular disease – particularly in men.  According to the National Sleep Foundation, men with severe obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) are 58% more likely to develop congestive heart failure than men without sleep apnea. Some studies in the past have suggest that patients who regularly underwent CPAP treatments were less likely to experience instances of a stroke or heart attack.

A recent study called the Sleep Apnea Cardiovascular Endpoints (SAVE) study, which is managed by the Adelaide Institute for Sleep Health of Flinders University of South Australia, determined that CPAP machines is not as effective at reducing heart risk as scientists have believed. This multicenter study tested 2,717 patients from 89 medical centers in seven countries. The patients had moderate to severe OSA, coronary artery or cerebrovascular disease and most of them were older males with a snoring issue.

In order to test how the CPAP machines affected their heart conditions, the researcher separated the patients. One group was required to practice healthy sleeping habits, while the other was required the same plus CPAP therapy. The second group was required to use the machines at least 3 hours per night.

The study lasted 1 week and what researchers found was that patients using CPAP machines did not show any improvements over those who did not. However, the machines are still successful against sleep apnea. More research need to be done to truly determine if CPAP cannot help those with sleep apnea related heart risk.