MRI May Help Reduce Effects Of Sleep Apnea

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

Using cardiac magnetic resonance imaging, Ohio State University Medical Center researchers are able to assess the effects of a common treatment for sleep apnea on heart structure and function in otherwise healthy individuals.

“Little data exists on continuous positive airway pressure’s therapeutic effects on the heart’s right side, so we are leveraging the advantages of imaging to see if the treatment helps these patients,” says Dr. Ulysses Magalang, medical director of Ohio State’s Sleep Disorders Center and first author of the study that appears in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.

Researchers found that continuous positive airway pressure therapy improves heart structure with improvements in the volume of the right ventricle.


“By getting clear pictures of the heart in these patients, we were able to better understand the cardiovascular consequences of obstructive sleep apnea. These results can be used to guide treatments to reduce death and disability due to heart disease,” says Dr. Subha Raman, medical director of the cardiac magnetic resonance and computerized tomography program at Ohio State’s Richard M. Ross Heart Hospital, and also senior author of the study.

Drs. Magalang and Raman recently collaborated on a study published in the journal Experimental and Clinical Endocrinology & Diabetes showing a possible link between sleep apnea and heart disease, which is the leading cause of death responsible for 29 percent of people worldwide. The researchers identified a substance that may prevent atherosclerosis.

Affecting approximately 12 million Americans, obstructive sleep apnea is a condition in which breathing is interrupted for brief periods during sleep. These repetitive disruptions, known as intermittent hypoxia, occur when oxygen levels drop below normal levels.

Continuous positive airway pressure therapy is administered by a device that delivers continuous positive airway pressure during sleep. The device encompasses a mask worn over the nose, tubing and a fan that delivers enough air pressure to keep the throat open, preventing obstruction of the airway, and reversing the negative consequences of sleep apnea on the heart.