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The Surprising Connection Between CPAP Treatment & Obesity

CPAP treatment does much more than help you get a good night’s sleep. Studies have confirmed that CPAP therapy helps mitigate a wide range of negative side effects caused by sleep apnea, including high blood pressure and depression.

However, for individuals who are obese or overweight, CPAP treatment can have an even more dramatic impact. For obese or overweight individuals who are also struggling with sleep apnea, investing in quality CPAP equipment could mean improved health outcomes and even a longer lifespan.

As such, you shouldn’t ignore your sleep apnea or any weight problems you might have. By taking action to address these common conditions with the help of CPAP treatment, you will be better positioned to enjoy the lifestyle you desire.

How are Obesity & Sleep Apnea Related?

While body weight is hardly the only issue that could cause someone to develop obstructive sleep apnea, it has long been recognized as one of the top factors that increases one’s risk for the condition.

In fact, according to WebMD, “More than half of people with obstructive sleep apnea are either overweight or obese, which is defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 25-29.9 or 30.0 or above, respectively…Each unit increase in BMI is associated with a 14 percent increased risk of developing sleep apnea, and a 10 percent weight gain increases the odds of developing moderate or severe obstructive sleep apnea by six times.”

An obese person is seven times as likely to have obstructive sleep apnea as someone who maintains a healthy weight. Obesity causes an increase in soft tissue in the throat and mouth, which leads to a blockage of the airways when the muscles relax during sleep. While the muscles in the breathing passages naturally relax for all people during sleep, the excess tissue that builds up from obesity makes obstructions more likely to occur.

The result is a temporary interruption to breathing, in which oxygen may be cut off for as long as 10 seconds. The brain eventually signals for the sleeper to wake up, restoring normal breathing patterns. In extreme cases, these incidents can occur as many as 30 times in a single hour throughout the night. While the sleeper may not remember them the next day, they will feel tired and irritable. Loud snoring is also extremely common when someone suffers from sleep apnea.

Individuals with extreme obesity may also experience inefficient breathing during the day because of the excess fat interfering with lung and chest movement, further complicating the negative side effects already experienced as a result of sleep apnea.

Regardless of whether sleep apnea is a result of obesity, it can lead to additional weight gain in and of itself. Someone who has a healthy weight but struggles with sleep apnea because of other underlying issues could gradually become overweight or obese if they do not treat their condition. This creates a vicious cycle in which sleep apnea and weight gain contribute to each other, resulting in further health complications.

Additional Health Consequences of Obesity & Sleep Apnea

With sleep apnea and obesity being so closely related, it should hardly be surprising that they share many similar long-term consequences. Both obesity and sleep apnea are associated with an increased risk of developing high blood pressure and heart disease, as well as type 2 diabetes. Studies have also linked both conditions with depression, memory loss, and other mental health issues.

However, the negative outcomes of obesity go far beyond this. According to Public Health, obesity and unhealthy weight gain are now believed to be a contributing factor for several types of cancer. Obesity harms fertility rates in both sexes, and increases the risk of miscarriage during pregnancy. Obesity can contribute to asthma and other respiratory problems, as well as musculoskeletal disorders such as arthritis and muscular atrophy.

Obesity’s prevalence has rightly resulted in it being labeled as an epidemic — studies have found that as many as 39.6 percent of American adults over the age of 20 are obese. Some organizations even predict that 85 percent of adults in the United States will be overweight or obese by the year 2030.

As obesity rates rise, the prevalence of sleep apnea, heart disease, and other harmful conditions will also increase. The need for additional medical treatments as a result of obesity and its associated conditions could greatly increase healthcare costs for individuals and families.

Needless to say, with sleep apnea and obesity being so closely interrelated, effectively addressing both issues should be a top priority for those who wish to achieve a healthier future.

CPAP Therapy’s Impact on Sleep Apnea & Obesity

Sleep apnea and obesity are both serious issues that need to be addressed — and the good news is that CPAP therapy can help with both problems.

A recent study evaluated the effectiveness of exercise and diet programs on a group of 300 obese individuals. Of the study participants, over 200 suffered from sleep apnea. These individuals were divided into two separate groups — one of which used a CPAP machine in addition to the diet and exercise program, and another that did not.

The study’s results? As reported by Endocrine News, “Among patients with self-reported OSA symptoms, those who received concurrent CPAP treatment lost an average of 5.7 pounds more in four months than patients who did not treat their sleep apnea.” Not only did those who used CPAP machines lose more weight than those with untreated sleep apnea, but they also lost more weight than the group that did not have sleep apnea.

Even after adjusting for statistical differences such as age, sex, and beginning weight, the study still confirmed a positive correlation between CPAP therapy and weight loss, suggesting that improved sleep quality yields a greater ability to control one’s weight.

Another study posted even more dramatic findings. As reported by Medical Xpress, an 11-year analysis of obese sleep apnea patients found that those who used a CPAP machine experienced “a 62 percent decline in the odds for death over 11 years of follow-up.” The study’s results factored in other obesity-related issues like diabetes and heart disease to confirm that there is an actual connection between CPAP treatment and lifespan.

As incredible as it may seem, using a CPAP machine could ultimately help obese individuals live longer. Improved sleep quality leads to improved heart health and better results during weight loss programs, ensuring more positive long-term health outcomes.

While CPAP therapy can have dramatic positive outcomes, patients must be fully compliant with their treatment plan to enjoy these benefits. This makes it essential that you find a CPAP mask that fits comfortably and will not slip out of place while you are sleeping.

If you continue to feel lethargic or your equipment’s sleep report indicates that you are continuing to experience a high number of sleep apnea events, this doesn’t mean you should give up on CPAP therapy. You may be experiencing mask leaks, or you could benefit by adjusting air pressure levels or switching to a BiPAP machine for more comfortable breathing.

Working with your doctor to improve the effectiveness of your CPAP therapy will help you sleep better so that you can be more likely to experience the positive outcomes cited in these recent studies.

Other Steps to Achieve a Healthy Weight

While CPAP therapy can certainly make a big difference in addressing sleep apnea and obesity, it isn’t going to get the job done on its own. Other lifestyle changes are necessary to help you regain a healthy body weight and mitigate the harmful effects of both conditions. A healthy body weight won’t necessarily cause sleep apnea to go away, but it will help you enjoy higher energy levels and experience less discomfort as you go about your daily activities.

Even relatively minor weight loss can lead to immediate health improvements, which is why many physicians focus on reducing one’s weight by about five percent as an initial fitness goal. Obviously, continuing to lose weight until you reach a healthy BMI will result in even greater improvements.

So what do you need to do to achieve a healthy weight? For most individuals, enacting dietary changes is a crucial first step. This doesn’t mean that you should go for a fad diet that promises drastic results. These extreme diets often result in temporary weight loss, rather than a long-term, lasting reduction in weight. In fact, most people end up regaining the weight lost from a fad diet.

Successful dieting starts by reducing the total number of calories you consume each day. It’s typically best to consult with your doctor for specific recommendations on cutting calories, but most people consume around 1,500 calories per day when trying to lose weight.

Unsurprisingly, restricting foods high in carbohydrates, salt, fats, and added sugars is one of the best ways to cut calories. Individuals trying to lose weight should try to replace such food items with fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and heart-healthy whole grains. Even something as simple as replacing your daily can of soda with a glass of water will help you cut hundreds of calories.

A healthy diet will be even more effective when paired with exercise. When trying to lose weight, aerobic exercise should be the focus. While it is recommended that most people get 150 minutes of “moderate” physical activity each week, obese individuals may need to do even more to reach their weight-loss goals.

However, it can be dangerous to attempt to dive into an intense exercise regimen after extended periods of inactivity. The safest option is to gradually increase how much physical activity you participate in each week. By increasing the intensity and length of your workouts as your cardiovascular endurance and overall fitness improve, you are less likely to injure yourself or suffer other setbacks.

Walking is one of the best activities when first starting to exercise again. Walking is relatively low-impact, but still helps you burn calories while strengthening the heart and lungs, improving balance, and addressing joint pain and other common side effects of obesity. Every little bit helps. Even parking farther away from the grocery store can help you get in more steps so you can get more exercise.

Parting Thoughts

CPAP treatment is not a miracle cure for obesity in and of itself. However, as recent studies have revealed, it can play a powerful role in improving the effectiveness of weight loss efforts. Compliance with a CPAP therapy program can also help address and prevent other health problems caused by both sleep apnea and obesity, such as heart disease or type 2 diabetes.

Of course, getting the equipment you need for your sleep apnea therapy is sometimes easier said than done, particularly when insurance only provides partial coverage for your equipment — or doesn’t provide any coverage at all.

Because everyone deserves a good night’s sleep, No Insurance Medical Supplies offers a vast selection of CPAP machines and other equipment at discounted prices. Many of our CPAP machines are available for hundreds of dollars less than their MSRP. Better still, we provide free shipping on all orders over $89, as well as financing that lets you break up your purchase into affordable monthly payments.

Whether your obstructive sleep apnea is being influenced by obesity or other lifestyle factors, CPAP treatment will play a key role in helping you achieve healthy change. Don’t let inadequate insurance keep you from getting the care you need. We’re ready to help you improve your sleep and your health.


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