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CPAP machines have changed millions of lives for the better worldwide. For individuals living with sleep apnea, CPAP machines can mean the difference between life and death. Aside from offering the ability to actually catch some restful sleep, CPAP machines have been found to provide a wide range of secondary benefits including improved sex lives and a lowered risk of health complications in pre-diabetic individuals. Now, new research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association says that sleep apnea patients who wear their CPAP masks each night could have significantly lower risk of heart failure.

The study is one of the first to examine the relationship between sleep apnea and heart failure. Using data gathered by the Danish national healthcare system, researchers at the Copenhagen University Hospital found that sleep apnea patients over 60 who did not use their CPAP machines faced a 38% higher risk of heart failure compared to those who did use their CPAP. The data included health metrics of close to 5 million people, 40,485 of which were diagnosed with sleep apnea.

“It is indisputable in a study with this many patients that sleep apnea patients as a group do in fact develop more heart failure than the general public, although the observational study design makes it hard to determine a cause-and-effect relationship,” says the study’s lead author, Dr. Anders Holt. “This should encourage doctors caring for sleep apnea patients to pay extra attention to monitoring and treating other cardiovascular risk factors, as well as the sleep apnea.”

Already, the researchers behind this study feel that their data suggest that CPAP therapy may offer life-extending benefits to individuals even without sleep apnea. Above all else, though, this study reinforces the need for individuals with sleep apnea to stick to their doctor-prescribed CPAP regimens. Sure, the masks might be a little uncomfortable at first, but they’re much more comfortable than a coffin.

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