A clinical trial in Sweden has found that weight loss effectively reduces sleep apnoea, particularly in severe cases of the condition, reports the British Medical Journal. Researchers at the Karolinska Institute tested 63 participants - all obese men with body mass indexes of between 30-40 and sufferers of sleep apnoea – by putting half on a seven week weight-loss programme and keeping half on their usual diets. At the end of the trial it was found that the diet group experienced a far reduced level of apnoea episodes compared to the control group, with a number of them no longer classified as obese.
It is hoped that the study will go some way to helping clinicians develop a more effective approach to combating sleep apnoea.
Obstructive sleep apnoea is a condition characterised by pauses in breathing during sleep, with individual episodes lasting around 10 seconds. Sufferers, typically overweight men, can experience over 30 episodes per hour and the condition is known to be linked to heart disease.
The findings of the Karolinska study appear to go against the results of an earlier smaller scale trial at Austin Hospital in Australia, which concluded that weight loss and ‘lifestyle’ changes alone were not sufficient to combat sleep apnoea.
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