A new study shows that when cardiovascular patients with sleep apnea use CPAP adequately, they aren’t readmitted to the hospital within 30 days. But the study also shows that most of these patients don’t actually use CPAP, highlighting both the promise and shortcomings of CPAP treatment.

How CPAP Can Help Heart Patients

CPAP mask with tubesPeople who find themselves in the hospital because of heart problems often have undiagnosed sleep apnea. Unfortunately, unless this problem is diagnosed and treated, the damage to the heart continues, resulting in very high readmission rates for patients.

To try to reduce the readmission rates for cardiac patients, researchers implemented a policy to perform sleep tests on the heart patients. If a patient was diagnosed with sleep apnea, the patient was given CPAP treatment.

They found that 78% of their patients (81/104) had sleep apnea. These 81 patients were issued CPAP when they were discharged from the hospital. They found that of the patients who used CPAP adequately following their discharge, none were readmitted to the hospital, proving the potential of CPAP to improve outcomes for cardiac patients.

The Limits of CPAP

So far, this sounds like a great success for CPAP. Until you look at how many patients actually complied with CPAP. Researchers defined compliance in this study as using CPAP 70% of nights, and found that only 19 patients (23%) met this criterion. Those used CPAP less than the compliance standard, and those who didn’t use it at all had basically the same rate of readmission (30 and 29%, respectively), which was higher than the national readmission rate (about 24%).

What we have here is a textbook example of how CPAP fails many of the people who depend on it for lifesaving treatment. By being a cumbersome, difficult treatment, CPAP can make compliance difficult for patients. If we really want to help these patients, it’s important to consider CPAP alternatives and the role they can play in saving lives.

Want to learn whether CPAP alternatives are right for you? Please call 402-493-4175 for an appointment at Advanced Dental Sleep Treatment Center.