Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a common sleep disorder characterized by the repeated collapse of the upper airway during sleep, resulting in brief periods of breathing cessation and reduced oxygen levels in the blood. OSA is associated with a range of adverse health outcomes, including cardiovascular disease, metabolic dysfunction, and cognitive impairment.
Obesity is a leading cause of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). While continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy is a common treatment for OSA, the effects of weight loss and lifestyle interventions on OSA and its associated health problems are still unclear.
A recent study, the Interdisciplinary Weight Loss and Lifestyle Intervention for OSA (INTERAPNEA) aimed to evaluate the impact of an 8-week weight loss and lifestyle intervention on OSA and its comorbidities in Spanish men aged 18 to 65 years with moderate to severe OSA and a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or greater who were receiving CPAP therapy.
The study involved 89 men randomized into two groups: one received CPAP therapy (control group), while the other received an 8-week weight loss and lifestyle intervention combined with CPAP therapy (intervention group). The intervention included changes in nutritional behavior, aerobic exercise, sleep hygiene, and tobacco and alcohol cessation.
The primary outcome of the study was the change in the apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) from baseline to the intervention endpoint (8 weeks) and 6 months after the intervention. The AHI measures the severity of OSA by counting the number of breathing pauses per hour of sleep.
The results showed that the intervention group had a significant decrease in AHI (51% reduction) compared to the control group (2.5% reduction) at the end of the intervention. The reduction in AHI was sustained at 6 months after the intervention, with a 57% reduction in the intervention group. Furthermore, 45% of the intervention group no longer required CPAP therapy at the intervention endpoint, and 15% attained complete OSA remission.
In addition to the improvement in OSA, the intervention group also showed greater improvements in body weight and composition, cardiometabolic risk, and health-related quality of life compared to the control group.
The study suggests that an interdisciplinary weight loss and lifestyle intervention can lead to clinically meaningful and sustainable improvements in OSA severity and its comorbidities as well as health-related quality of life. The results also highlight the importance of addressing obesity as a central strategy to manage OSA.
In conclusion, if you suffer from OSA and are overweight or obese, a weight loss and lifestyle intervention may be a valuable addition to your treatment plan. Talk to your healthcare provider to see if this approach is right for you.