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Sun, Nov. 17

Wondering if a sleep study is necessary for hypertension and blood pressure problems

Dear Dr. Rosenberg,

I am on three medications for hypertension and my blood pressure still runs high. My cardiologist suggested I get a sleep study. I live alone and don’t know if I snore or stop breathing but no one has ever mentioned it. Do you think a sleep study is really necessary?

A: Yes I do. What you have is known as resistant hypertension, which is the requirement of three or more medications to control hypertension. Studies have shown that 70 percent of individuals with this condition have sleep apnea. In fact, a study published this month in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, done in Hong Kong, revealed that over 90% had sleep apnea. It also revealed that just treating the blood pressure without treating the sleep apnea, failed to prevent cardiac complications.

Dear Dr. Rosenberg,

My dad was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease about a year ago. My mom says he is having a hard time staying asleep. Is this common in Parkinson’s?

A: Yes, up to 50 percent of people with the disease have trouble falling and especially staying asleep. This can be due to frequent urination, inability to move easily and find a comfortable position, painful muscle spasms and restless legs syndrome and sleep apnea, to name a few. I would urge your mother to discuss this with his neurologist. Most of these are treatable.

Dear Dr. Rosenberg,

My husband was recently hospitalized with a heart attack. While in the hospital his nurse noted that he stopped breathing in his sleep. His doctor wants him to have a sleep study but he is not convinced it is necessary. What do you think?

A: Based on recent findings, I would encourage him to get tested. One recent study followed people for six years who had had heart attacks. Those with sleep apnea who refused treatment were 80 percent more likely to go on to develop a second heart attack than those who chose treatment.

Dear Dr. Rosenberg,

My daughter has been diagnosed with sleep apnea and she has diabetes. As of now, she is not sure that she wants to treat her sleep apnea. She dreads wearing a CPAP mask. I am worried that by ignoring it, matters will get worse. Am I correct?

A: Yes you are. We know that treating sleep apnea decrees the blood sugar significantly making control of diabetes much easier. We also know, based on a study published in the October issue of BMJ (British Medical Journal), that the incidence of diabetic kidney disease is 75 percent higher in diabetics with untreated sleep apnea.

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