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Cardiac deaths peak in sleep hours for patients with sleep apnea

ople have sleep apnea and are more likely to die suddenly during sleep, the early waking hours are even more dangerous for the rest than we had previously realized," Dr. Gami explains. "We clearly have two distinct populations, with opposite times of highest cardiac death risk."

Dr. Somers cautioned that the study could not determine whether OSA raises the overall risk of sudden cardiac death, or whether it simply shifts the risk to the sleeping hours. The researchers also could not tell whether CPAP devices reduced the nocturnal death risk because records of whether they had been used in the days before sudden death were unavailable. Previous studies have proven CPAP effective in OSA symptom relief and in raising nighttime oxygen levels in the blood, however.

"At the very least, the study may help us better understand why people should die in their sleep at all. We now know that persons with sleep apnea have a peak in sudden cardiac death risk at a time when the general population is relatively protected," Dr. Somers concludes. "Because so many are undiagnosed, we should increase our efforts to identify them and provide the appropriate advice and treatment."


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Contact: Lee Aase
newsbureau@mayo.edu
507-284-5005
Mayo Clinic
23-Mar-2005


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