When people are hospitalized for cardiovascular problems, it’s an unfortunate truth that many of them will find their way back into the hospital soon after discharge. In fact, nearly a quarter (24%) of patients hospitalized for cardiovascular patients are readmitted within 30 days of discharge.

Researchers proposed that sleep apnea may be a major cause of this readmission rate and proposed to treat heart patients with CPAP in an attempt to reduce the readmission rates.

When CPAP worked for these patients, it worked very well, but it often didn’t, highlighting a major weakness of CPAP treatment.

How CPAP Can Help Heart Patients

The researchers in this study knew that many people diagnosed with heart problems often also have undiagnosed sleep apnea. They therefore proposed to conduct sleep tests on their cardiac patients, and treat those who had sleep apnea. The only treatment option offered was CPAP.

Of the 104 patients released from the hospital over the duration of the study, 78% (81) were found to have sleep apnea. All these patients were given CPAP upon discharge.

CPAP’s results were striking: none of the patients who complied with CPAP adequately were readmitted to the hospital with 30 days.

The Limits of CPAP

CPAP is a great treatment, if you use it. Unfortunately, many people just don’t use it, as this study makes clear. Of the 81 patients given CPAP, only 19 (23%) actually used CPAP 70% of nights or more. More than three quarters of patients used CPAP less than the recommended amount or not at all. These patients had readmission rates that were higher than the national average  (30% and 29%) respectively.

This reminds us again that CPAP commonly fails the very people it has the potential to save. By being a treatment that is difficult or intrusive to use, it tends to have very low compliance rates, which means that most people don’t get the benefit of this life saving technology. In order to improve our treatment rates, doctors need to branch out and consider CPAP alternatives that can help save the lives of many people who just wouldn’t stick with their CPAP.

If you are looking for a CPAP alternative for treating your sleep apnea, we can help. Please call (303) 691-0267 for an appointment with a sleep dentist at the TMJ Therapy & Sleep Center of Colorado.