Main idea: This proof-of-concept randomized controlled study demonstrates, for the first time, that CPAP treatment, when optimally used at night, reduces resting heart rate during the day, and, therefore, has positive cardiovascular carry over effects. These findings suggest that better identification and treatment of OSA may have important clinical implications for cardiovascular disease prevention.
It has been widely recognized that obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is linked to cardiovascular disease. Yet, randomized controlled studies failed to demonstrate a clear cardiovascular benefit from OSA treatment, mainly because of poor adherence to continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). To date, no prior study has assessed the effect of CPAP treatment on daytime resting heart rate, a strong predictor of adverse cardiovascular outcomes and mortality.
Methods and Results: We conducted a randomized controlled study in 39 participants with OSA and prediabetes, who received either in-laboratory all-night (i.e., optimal) CPAP or an oral placebo for 2 weeks. During daytime, participants continued daily activities outside the laboratory. Resting heart rate was continuously assessed over 19 consecutive days and nights using an ambulatory device consisting of a single-lead ECG and triaxis accelerometer. Compared with placebo, CPAP reduced daytime resting heart rate. The magnitude of reduction in daytime resting heart rate after treatment significantly correlated with the magnitude of decrease in plasma norepinephrine, a marker of sympathetic activity, and the magnitude of decrease in OSA severity (i.e., apnea-hypopnea index, oxygen desaturation index, and microarousal index).