Weight Loss Improves Sleep Apnea

Obesity related to sleep apnea

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) A strong correlation between sleep apnea and obesity suggests that losing weight could have a tremendous effect on improving sleep disorders. While not all sleep apnea sufferers are overweight, the majority are.

People with obstructive sleep apnea wake up multiple times throughout the night, often using a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine to keep the airways open. A new study finds that losing significant amounts of weight improved the disorder for half of the patients in the study.

"Dropping extra pounds may decrease your sleep apnea."

Kari Johansson of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm tracked 63 men who suffered from moderate to severe sleep apnea, in a study recently published. Half of the patients, aged 30 to 65, participated in a very low-calorie weight loss plan for nine weeks, followed by a year-long program of weight-maintenance counseling.

After a year, about half of the patients who lost weight and kept it off no longer needed a CPAP machine to keep their airways open during sleep, and sleep apnea went away in 10 percent of them.

"Our findings suggest that weight loss may be an effective treatment strategy for sleep apnea in obese men," says Johansson.

The condition affects men more than women, and people who are overweight are more likely to develop the disease. Sleep apnea is associated with extreme daytime tiredness and an increased risk of traffic accidents, as well as stroke and heart disease. Those who suffer from moderate and severe sleep apnea are also at an increased risk of premature death.

The study was published in the British Medical Journal in June 2011.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
June 29, 2011
Last Updated:
July 4, 2011