A Healio news report explores the link between sleep and heart health and whether the treatment of sleep disorders can help prevent heart disease.

“Untreated, sleep apnea is associated with increased CHD events, such as MI, atrial fibrillation and other arrhythmias, stroke, sudden death and progression to HF,” Rami Khayat, MD, associate professor of medicine at Ohio State University and director of its Sleep Heart Program, told Cardiology Today.

Although evidence continues to accumulate on the mechanisms of sleep apnea and its association with different forms of heart disease, there is still much uncertainty about how the two relate to each other and the optimal treatments for patients with both.

“It is difficult to tease out whether it is the CVD or the obesity or the diabetes that causes obstructive sleep apnea, or whether obstructive sleep apnea is there as a bystander,” Martin R. Cowie, MD, MSc, FRCP, FRCP (Ed), FESC, professor of cardiology at Imperial College London and Royal Brompton Hospital, said in an interview. “But if clinicians and cardiologists screen for sleep-disordered breathing, they will find a substantial number of people that have this disorder.”

Further complicating the issue were the unexpected results of the SERVE-HF study presented at the 2015 European Society of Cardiology Congress and published in The New England Journal of Medicine. Cowie and fellow investigators for the SERVE-HF study found that treating central sleep apnea (CSA) with adaptive servo-ventilation in patients with HF led to worse outcomes.

View the full story at www.healio.com