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Losing Weight Proves Effective Cure for Sleep Apnea

Medical researchers reported that obese men with severe sleep apnea when the study began benefited most from weight loss.   According to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance, sleep apnea involves the temporary cessation of breathing during sleep and is a relatively common but under-diagnosed disease. Five or more such events per hour is considered a disease. 

Untreated, sleep apnea is associated with an increased risk of traffic accidents, as well as stroke and heart disease. Moderate and severe sleep apnea also increases the risk of premature death. It has long been known that people with overweight or obesity are more likely to develop the disease, and that men are more affected than women. 

Obstructive sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder characterized by pauses in breathing during sleep. Each episode lasts for at least 10 seconds and is caused by the collapse of the upper airways during sleep.

In a study published in the British Medical Journal, researchers examined if weight-loss can help to cure moderate and severe sleep apnea. 

The study included obese men between ages 30 and 65. The participants had moderate to severe sleep apnea.  The participants were randomly assigned to two groups, one of which underwent an intense weight-loss program, the other served as a control group, for a period of nine weeks. 

The results of the study show that the weight loss group lost roughly 40 pounds on average after nine weeks and more than halved the number of apnea events. None of the treated patients had severe sleep apnea, half had only mild sleep apnea and one in six could be declared healthy. The researchers also noted that the effect of the weight loss program was greatest in patients with severe sleep apnea.

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