Sleep apnea is a condition suffered by millions across the globe. It is characterized by periods of apnea, or failure to breath, as well as loud, roof-shaking snoring. Surprisingly, the individual suffering from sleep apnea may not realize he or she suffers from it, and it is often a spouse or partner who sounds the alarm.
Sleep apnea is not just a nuisance. It can contribute to heart failure, heart attacks, obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and many other maladies. And most people with sleep apnea are chronically fatigued.
A recent study from Columbia University found that statin drugs (generally used to treat high cholesterol) might have the potential to improve the chronic inflammation of the blood vessels that is typically linked to sleep apnea. These drugs are known to lower cholesterol as well as to reduce inflammation in the heart arteries.
Much more research is needed before statins can be considered a treatment for sleep apnea, but the possibility is intriguing.
As I told reporter Tara Haelle:
“This is basic science research, not a clinical study. So we don’t know specifically what degree of reduction in heart risk statins might provide for sleep apnea patients without other risk factors. But it does provide a great launching point for new patient-centered studies on the topic.