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12 Jul 2019

Researchers at Flinders University have found that continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment of obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) can improve depression symptoms in patients suffering from cardiovascular diseases.

Using data from the Sleep Apnoea Cardiovascular Endpoints (SAVE) trial led by the university, the new study has found a significant decrease in cases of depression after patients received CPAP treatment for their sleep apnoea.

From detailed analysis of the SAVE data, university researchers and collaborators at the George Institute have found that CPAP for moderate-severe OSA in patients with cardiovascular disease has broader benefits in terms of preventing depression, independent of improved sleepiness.

Prior studies investigating the effect of CPAP on mood with various experimental designs and length of follow-up periods have yielded heterogenous results.

Professor Doug McEvoy from Flinders University said the trial was largest trial of its type and one of very few studies reporting such an effect.

“Patients who have had a stroke or heart attack are prone to suffer from low mood and are two to three times more likely to develop clinical depression, which then further elevates their risk of future heart attacks and strokes,” Professor McEvoy said.

SAVE trial participants were recruited from more than 80 clinical centres in China, Australia, New Zealand, India, the USA, Spain and Brazil and were predominantly overweight and older males, habitual snorers and had moderately severe OSA.

The latest study showed a significant fall in depression symptoms in OSA patients after CPAP treatment, independent of improvements in daytime sleepiness.

The positive effect of CPAP treatment on depression symptoms was manifest within six months and persisted during the 3.7 years of follow-up.

The positive effect of CPAP treatment on depression symptoms was more pronounced in patients with lower mood scores prior to treatment.

The research paper has been published by The Lancet in EClinicalMedicine.

Published: 12 Jul 2019