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Sleep Disorder Linked to Heart Failure Patient Deaths

there is a severe shortage of donor hearts for transplantation, scientists are looking for alternate therapies. One such approach, suggested by the present study, is treatment of OSA in heart failure patients.

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when a person stops breathing during sleep at least 15 to 20 times an hour. These recurrent interruptions in breathing deprive the brain of oxygen and activate the sympathetic nervous system, causing increases in blood pressure, heart rate and other disturbances. This, in turn, contributes to the progression of heart failure and mortality.

However, as Dr. Bradley pointed out, most heart failure patients don’t have the usual symptoms linked to OSA, which include: headache in the morning; loud snoring, restless sleep, or daytime sleepiness. “Sleep studies for heart failure patients are crucial in determining whether they have obstructive sleep apnea. Since the risk of death for these patients is significant, we need to be more vigilant in pursuing the diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea in these patients,” he said.

This research will influence how we investigate and treat patients with heart failure, said Dr. John Parker, Head of Cardiology at the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre, University Health Network and Mount Sinai Hospital, adding that “treating sleep apnea in these patients has become as routine as implanting pacemakers or using defibrillators.”

Patients for the study were recruited from the Heart Failure Clinic of the Mount Sinai Hospital and the sleep studies were performed in sleep laboratories at Toronto General Hospital and the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute. In order to clearly determine the effect of sleep apnea, the characteristics of all the heart failure patients in the two groups were generally the same, including age, gender, severity of symptoms, medications, weight, and diabetes.

The research also suggests that there is a strong trend to a reduced
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