Weight Loss Surgery Not a Cure for Sleep Apnea, Research Shows

Weight Loss Surgery is not a cure for sleep apnea according to a new study out of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. While obesity is a common factor for sleep apnea, new research shows that the surgery does not always resolve the condition.

CPAP-machine-for-sleep-apneaBeing overweight or obese is a significant risk factor for the disorder known as Obstructive Sleep Apnea, or OSA. And although it’s true that weight loss surgery can help relieve symptoms of sleep apnea in some patients, a new research paper published in The American Journal of Medicine says that going under the knife is not a cure.

The authors of the paper — a team led by Dr. David Greenburg of Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC — analyzed a dozen studies involving more than 300 weight loss surgery patients. All of the patients experienced significant weight loss, and had fewer sleep apnea episodes per hour — but “fewer” does not equal “none”. Since the test subjects still had significant symptoms even after losing weight, the research team concluded that weight loss surgery is not a cure for sleep apnea.

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And sleep apnea is no joke. Although the complaint most frequently associated with OSA is loud snoring, the real problem posed by the condition is far more unsettling.

The Greek word “apnea” literally means “without breath.” And people who suffer from OSA literally stop breathing while they’re asleep. The time spent not breathing can add up to hundreds of minutes per night, which ruins the person’s chances of getting any real rest.

This lack of sound sleep can cause people with OSA to experience extreme daytime sleepiness, resulting in poor performance, serious accidents, and even motor vehicle crashes. And having OSA puts a person at risk of developing high blood pressure, stroke, and heart disease as well.

According to the U.S. National Institutes of Health, more than 12 million Americans are affected by obstructive sleep apnea. Yet most people with OSA remain undiagnosed and untreated. Obviously, say the researchers, doctors need to be more proactive about detecting OSA in patients at risk for the condition. More investigation of OSA is needed, as well, they say, in order to determine both the causes and effective therapies.

Until then, the best advice for people who think they might have sleep apnea is to consult with their regular doctor.

One Response

  1. Martin

    I must agree that it is NOT a cure… i had my surgery a year ago. I’ve since lost OVER half my weight and still need to use the pap machine….


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