cpap mask laying on the floor We know that sleep apnea is a condition with potentially deadly consequences. CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) is a highly effective treatment for sleep apnea. When used properly, CPAP can literally save your life. 

There’s a problem, though: CPAP is an uncomfortable, inconvenient treatment that many people don’t want to continue. Depending on the data you look at, between one-quarter and one-half of people who start CPAP in Columbus likely give up on it within a year or so. 

Now a new study shows why that’s a bad idea: giving up on CPAP can be bad for your heart, even deadly

If you’re unable to continue with your CPAP therapy, don’t just give it up: find an alternative sleep apnea treatment that can work just as well. Columbus sleep dentist Dr. Mike Firouzian can help you get oral appliance therapy if you just can’t keep doing CPAP. 

A Huge Study Population

This study utilizes information from the French national health insurance reimbursement system. It looks at people who started CPAP therapy in 2015-2016. The data includes about 365,000 sleep apnea patients who started CPAP and had at least one year of follow-up. Of these patients, 76% kept up CPAP for at least one year, while 24% quit CPAP in the first year. 

Researchers then matched the 88,000 people who quit CPAP in the first year with 88,000 who had similar health characteristics but didn’t quit CPAP. Then the study compared what happened to these patients over the next three years. 

Why Do People Quit CPAP?

The nature of this study doesn’t let it tell us why people in this population quit CPAP. However, other studies tell us why people give up on CPAP treatment. 

Some of the common reasons why people quit CPAP in Columbus include:

  • Uncomfortable mask
  • Restricted feelings
  • Irritation of skin, mouth, nose, or throat
  • Pressure too high
  • Gassiness and bloating
  • Too much trouble to clean
  • Getting sick more often
  • Not enough support from the doctor

The CPAP mask can be uncomfortable to wear, which makes it hard for people to sleep while wearing it. Another problem is that the mask, no matter how comfortable, might make a person feel restricted. In addition, the mask, its straps, or even the air can cause irritation of the skin, mouth, nose, or throat. 

It can be hard to adjust your CPAP machine’s pressure properly. Too low, and it doesn’t work well, but too high, and it can feel stifling and suffocating. When you have high pressure, you’re also more likely to get gassiness and bloating from CPAP. However, it’s possible to experience gassiness and bloating even if you have the pressure adjusted properly.

People also have trouble taking care of their CPAP machines. CPAP machines have a complex cleaning routine that can be hard to keep up regularly. People who don’t clean their CPAP machines as often as they should often see a spike in their infections–they start getting sick more often. 

Few of these problems are insurmountable if people and their doctor are both willing to work toward a solution. However, many Columbus sleep doctors abandon patients and fail to give them the support they need to be successful at CPAP. So people give up. 

The Consequences of Quitting CPAP

However, this new study shows that quitting CPAP comes with serious consequences. When researchers compared patients who kept with CPAP therapy to those who didn’t, they found that sticking with CPAP was associated with a 39% lower risk of dying in the three years of follow-up. In the group that quit CPAP, 3.6% died, compared to just 2.3% of those who kept using CPAP. But it wasn’t just the risk of death that increased: quitting CPAP was linked to more heart problems. People who kept with CPAP had a 25% lower risk of high blood pressure and a 23% lower risk of heart failure. People who kept with CPAP also had a 13% lower risk of diabetes-associated hospitalization. However, the statistical analysis doesn’t make that quite statistically significant (there’s only a 94% chance that it’s non-random, while scientists usually like to see at least a 95% chance. The other conclusions are more than 99% likely to be non-random). 

People who quit CPAP because they found an alternative weren’t included in the analysis. 

Do You Need a CPAP Alternative in Columbus?

If you have sleep apnea but can’t tolerate CPAP treatment in Columbus? If so, then you shouldn’t simply quit your CPAP, increasing your risk of death, heart failure, and more. Instead, find a CPAP alternative that can effectively but comfortably treat your sleep apnea. Columbus sleep dentist Dr. Mike Firouzian has helped many people treat their sleep apnea with oral appliance therapy. Oral appliance therapy can be as effective as CPAP, but it’s easier to use and maintain. It’s also very comfortable and doesn’t cause gassiness. 

To learn whether you’re a candidate for oral appliance therapy, please call (614) 683-4640 or use our online form to request an appointment at Firouzian Dentistry, located in Columbus’ Crossroads neighborhood.