Weight loss and lifestyle program cuts severity of sleep apnea

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An interdisciplinary weight loss and lifestyle intervention is associated with clinically meaningful and sustainable improvements in obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) severity and health-related quality of life, according to a study published online April 22 in JAMA Network Open.

Almudena Carneiro-Barrera, Ph.D., from the University of Granada in Spain, and colleagues randomly assigned 89 men (aged 18 to 65 years) with moderate-to-severe OSA and body mass index ≥25 kg/m² who were receiving continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy to an eight-week interdisciplinary weight loss and lifestyle intervention plus usual care or usual care alone.

The researchers found that the intervention group had a greater decrease in the apnea-hypopnea index (AHI; 51 percent reduction; −21.2 events/hour) than the control group (change, 2.5 events/hour). The reduction in AHI at six months postintervention was 57 percent in the intervention group, with a mean between-group difference of −23.8 events/hour. At the end point, 18 of 40 participants in the intervention group no longer required CPAP therapy and six achieved complete OSA remission, while at six months, 21 of 34 participants no longer required CPAP therapy and 10 achieved complete remission. Greater improvements in body weight were seen in the intervention group versus control group (change, −7.1 kg versus −0.3 kg); greater improvements were also seen for change in fat mass (−2.9 kg versus 1.4 kg), cardiometabolic risk, and health-related quality of life.

“This approach may therefore be considered as a central strategy to address the substantial impact of this increasingly common sleep-disordered breathing condition,” the authors write.

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