Sleep apnea compromises blood pressure: UBCO research

Just six hours of the fluctuating oxygen levels associated with sleep apnea can begin to deteriorate a person’s circulatory system.

  • Nov. 18, 2016 12:00 p.m.

UBC's Glen Foster with a breathing apparatus in his lab. He is researching sleep apnea.

A single bout of sleep apnea impacts the human body’s ability to regulate blood pressure.

In a recent study measuring the impact of simulated sleep apnea on humans, researchers at UBC Okanagan campus found that just six hours of the fluctuating oxygen levels associated with sleep apnea can begin to deteriorate a person’s circulatory system.

Sleep apnea is a condition where breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep. The condition can result in frequent periods of decreased oxygen levels in the body, known as intermittent hypoxia.

“While it is well established that sleep apnea is linked to high blood pressure, our study shows this condition has an impact on the cardiovascular system that can begin within a single day,” says Glen Foster, an assistant professor of health and exercise science. “After just six hours of fluctuating oxygen levels, similar to what happens with sleep apnea, the body’s ability to regulate blood pressure is impaired.

“These changes occurred almost immediately in healthy young adults who were not experiencing the cumulative effects years of sleep apnea could bring about.”

As part of his study, Foster examined the impact of intermittent hypoxia on the cardiovascular system in 10 healthy young adults. Study participants wore a ventilating mask for six hours and oxygen levels were altered to mimic sleep apnea symptoms.

The study found that sleep apnea compromised the function of a person’s baroreceptors—biological sensors that regulate blood pressure. It also found damaging blood flow patterns in the legs, which over time could impact vascular health.

“These findings suggest that interventions for people suffering sleep apnea should occur as soon as the condition is diagnosed,” adds Foster.

According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, 5.4 million Canadians are either diagnosed with or at high risk for sleep apnea.

Foster’s research was recently published in the American Journal of Physiology.

 

Just Posted

Berry: Sayonara journalism, it’s been fun

Lake Country had more in store than I bargained for

Okanagan’s oldest mayor shows no sign of slowing down

Mayor James Baker has decades of history in his political career

Update: RCMP confirm body found at Kelowna’s Gyro Beach

Police tape is blocking part of the beach and several RCMP officers are on scene.

Pets still missing after Peachland home fire

Two Pomeranians and two cats are missing after fire

‘No answers:’ Canadians react to Sri Lanka bombings that killed hundreds

The co-ordinated bomb attacks killed at least 207 people and injured 450 more on Easter Sunday

Regional district backs more consultation on plans to help caribou

It is feared that the caribou recovery plans could result in closure of backcountry areas

Okanagan student shows skill at provincial finals

Aidan Eglin of Armstrong won website development event at Skills Canada’s B.C. finals in Abbotsford

Kootnekoff: Easter Bunny legal woes

Several years ago, our young daughter needed to know: “Is Santa Claus… Continue reading

Okanagan fire department rescues kittens

Enderby homeowner not aware cats were in wood pile in yard near garbage pile fire that got away

Okanagan township’s open burning winds down

Spallumcheen reminds residents of regulation changes as open burning concludes April 30

Children gather for Easter festival in Summerland

Fourth annual Easter Egg-stravaganza included activities and egg hunt

QUIZ: How much do you know about Easter?

Take this short quiz and put your knowledge to the test

Most Read