In a recent study published in Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, researchers found that inflammation may help predict and treat apnea.
Inflammation is traditionally thought one symptom of sleep apnea. But the current research shows that it actually precedes the sleep disorder and can be a treatment target.
The study was conducted by researchers from Penn State College of Medicine.
Sleep apnea is sleep disorder in which a person stop their breathing or have their breathing severely restricted during sleep.
Because these events can happen hundreds of time every night, sleep apnea is a serious medical condition and requires treatment.
It is estimated that about 17-24% of men and 5-9% of women are affected by the disorder. Men have higher risk of sleep apnea because they tend to have more belly fat.
The inflammation precede sleep apnea is an immune response in which white blood cells produce chemicals to fight a foreign substance.
Higher level of sleep apnea means severer inflammation, and more belly fat means severer inflammation.
In the study, researchers tracked 51 sleep apnea patients, who were between the ages of five and 12 at the beginning of the study.
The patients visited the clinic twice, one at the beginning of the study and the other 8 years later. Each time they finished a sleep experiment and had a blood test.
The results showed that in body, increases in the waistline were linked to increases of the inflammation, which in turn predicted sleep apnea in adolescence.
The researchers suggest that the inflammation is from belly fat and develops prior to sleep apnea.
Weight loss can help reduce the inflammation and sleep apnea. Metabolic health can play a big role in the development of sleep apnea in adolescence.
This finding provide new information for sleep apnea treatment. Traditionally, sleep apnea is treated with a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine, and many patients cannot benefit from it.
The present study shows that control body weight, especially belly fat may be a good option for these patients.