A landmark study presented at the European Respiratory Society (ERS) International Congress 2021 says “using PAP (positive airway pressure) therapy as directed can significantly increase sleep apnea patients’ chances of living longer.”1
The study, “CPAP Termination and All-Cause Mortality: A French Nationwide Database Analysis,” concluded people with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) who continued PAP therapy were 39% more likely to survive than patients who didn’t.1 Researchers observed more than
176,000 people in France with sleep apnea over a three-year period. Authors of the study say the survival rate gap remained significant when accounting for patients’ ages, overall health, other pre-existing conditions, and causes of death.1
Adam Benjafield, study co-author, said “Treating sleep apnea with PAP therapy may help you live longer; that’s the key takeaway here for people with sleep apnea and their doctors.” Benjafield also noted “This finding underscores how critical it is to identify the hundreds of millions of people worldwide whose sleep apnea is undiagnosed and untreated.”1
Diagnosing that population means medical professionals first need to screen patients for OSA. Several questionnaires exist for this purpose (for example, STOP-BANG).4 The next step is testing, either with an in-lab, overnight study using polysomnography, or with a home sleep apnea test (HSAT).
And just how large is that population? Another study involving Benjafield suggests the number is staggering: an estimated 936 million people worldwide have sleep apnea2—but more than 80% remain undiagnosed.3
A spillover benefit of this new study may be a reversal in so-called “CPAP Hesitancy.” New patients need to become familiar with their device and find one that works well for them (comfort, maintenance, etc.). Patients may also need the positive reinforcement that comes from reminding them of the benefits of CPAP therapy:
-Better Mood—When a patient has a proper night’s sleep, he or she will simply feel happier and more energized during the day.
-Sharper Focus—Not only can therapy delay the onset of cognitive impairment, but it can also improve day-to-day concentration.5
-Health Risk Prevention—Compliance with CPAP therapy aids in overall risk reduction for many types of diseases: it can lower blood pressure and chances for heart disease and stroke.
But the benefit of improved health and the chance to live longer eclipses everything else.
Pepin JL et al. “CPAP termination and all-cause mortality: a French nationwide database analysis.” ERS abstract, 2021. https://investors.resmed.com/investor-relations/events-and-presentations/press-releases/press-release-details/2021/People-with-Sleep-Apnea-Live-Longer-on-CPAP-in-Large-Late-Breaking-ResMed-Supported-ALASKA-Study-Presented-at-ERS/default.aspx
Benjafield AV et al. Lancet Resp Care 2019. https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanres/article/PIIS2213-2600(19)30198-5/fulltext
Young T et al. Sleep 1997. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9406321/
American Sleep Apnea Association. Sleep apnea information for clinicians. https://www.sleepapnea.org/learn/sleep-apnea-information-clinicians/
5Advanced Sleep Medicine Services, Inc. Sleep Blog. What CPAP machine should I choose? https://www.sleepdr.com/the-sleep-blog/what-cpap-machine-should-i-choose/