Stockholm – Up to 75% of patients with heart failure also suffer from sleep-related breathing dis-orders such as obstructive and central sleep apnea and combinations of both illnesses. Very often patients also have Cheyne-Stokes Breathing, which is characterized by crescendo-decrescendo tidal volumes and prolonged apneas alternating with phases of hyperventilation. The prognosis for patients with heart failure and Cheyne-Stokes Breathing is much poorer than for patients who suffer from heart failure only. Many patients, however, are not aware of their breathing disorders. As a result, the disorders are seldom recognized and adequately treated.
The problem is growing. "Patients with cardiovascular diseases and patients with sleep-related breathing disorders have many risk factors in common," explained Dr. Martina Bögel, Director of Science and Research at Weinmann Medical Technology, at a press conference at the European Respiratory Society congress in Stockholm. "It therefore follows that heart patients also have breathing disorders and should be examined routinely for them and treated appropriately."
Obesity, hypertension, age
The typical risk factors for sleep-related breathing disorders and for cardiovascular diseases are the same: age (more than 30 years), gender (male), high blood pressure, obesity (BMI above 25), diabetes, smoking, improper nutrition, and a lack of physical exercise. Given the rising average age of the population in Western societies and the unhealthy lifestyle, an increase in the number of patients can be expected. While in other parts of the world, as in the past, medicine is challenged by infectious diseases, the people in Western societies suffer from so-called "diseases of civilization" (lifestyle diseases) and degenerative disorders.
Obesity and adiposity are increasing and more and more people are getting fatter. Related risks in-clude diabetes, high blood pressure, lipometabolic disorders, arteriosclerosis, cardiovascular diseases and sleep-related breathing disorders.
The same applies to insufficient physical exercise. People are becoming lazier at an earlier age. The results are obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, lipometabolic disorders, cardiovascular diseases, skeletal disorders and sleep-related breathing disorders.
Too little sleep or non-restorative sleep harms the body. People who suffer from these problems are usually overweight and have an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, often get involved in acci-dents and experience reduced mental efficiency and productivity.
Treatment of breathing disorders reduces cardiological risk
"It appears as though cardiovascular diseases and sleep-related breathing disorders intensify each other. That makes it all the more important to give cardiac patients drug therapy and to treat their breathing dis-orders," Dr. Bögel said.