New Study: Treating Sleep Apnea in Cardiac Patients Reduces Hospital Readmission Rates



As if we didn’t already know the multitudes of benefits that using a CPAP brings, there is now even more good news!  A new study shows that using positive airway pressure (which is what a CPAP applies continuously) to treat sleep apnea in cardiac patients reduces these patients’ 30- day emergency department visits and hospital readmission rates.

Published by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine in the Oct. 15 issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, this study of hospitalized cardiac patients, which involved a collaboration between the Center for Sleep and Circadian Neurobiology and the Department of Cardiology at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, shows the positive effects that CPAP treatment brings for those suffering from both heart disease and sleep apnea.  Being effectively treated with positive airway pressure therapy showed to reduce 30-day hospital readmission rates and emergency department visits for patients, with 30-day rates being defined as a hospitalization or visit to the ER for a cardiac issue more than 48 hours after initial discharge.

Dr. Timothy Morgenthaler, President of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, and a national spokesperson for the Healthy Sleep Project, points out that “severe sleep apnea is solidly associated with serious cardiovascular outcomes, such as heart failure, heart attacks, and heart-related deaths.”  Therefore, this study proves just how important it is to diagnose and treat sleep apnea in patients hospitalized for heart problems. Treating and diagnosing such patients, Dr. Morgenthaler says, “is a win-win-win move; it improves the patient’s quality of life, improves health outcomes, and reduces the resources used to manage heart diseases.”

Participants in the study included 104 patients who were currently being hospitalized for cardiac conditions such as heart failure, arrhythmia, or heart attack. They were tested for sleep apnea while in the hospital, with results showing that 78% of these patients had sleep apnea!  That is a very high percentage, and just one more reason why anyone who is dealing with heart issues should get tested for sleep apnea. Each of those 78% was then treated with positive airway pressure, using CPAP for at least four or more hours per night on at least 70% of nights.

The study showed that while hospital readmission or ER visits occurred in 30% of cardiac patients with sleep apnea who only had partial positive airway pressure use and 29% of cardiac patients who suffer from sleep apnea who had no usage at all, not one of those who sufficiently used CPAP therapy was readmitted or visited emergency departments within 30 days from their hospital release… wow!

Clearly, CPAP usage benefits the health of those suffering from cardiac issues. However, it also benefits their wallets, since the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) does not reimburse hospital charges for the care of patients readmitted within 30 days after discharge. Therefore, proper CPAP usage for those suffering from heart conditions – especially those who are, or had been hospitalized – is a win across the board!


Study Source:  American Academy of Sleep Medicine. “Treating sleep apnea in cardiac patients reduces hospital readmission.”  Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, October 15 2014.