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Association of Positive Airway Pressure Prescription with Mortality in Patients with Obesity and Severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea: The Sleep Heart Health Study

Lisan Q, Van Sloten T, Marques Vidal P, Haba Rubio J, Heinzer R, Empana JP. JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2019 Apr 11. [Epub ahead of print] [CrossRef] [PubMed]

The association of positive airway pressure (PAP) with reduced mortality in patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) remains uncertain. This European, NIH-funded, multicenter, population-based cohort study evaluated data from the Sleep Heart Health Study (SHHS), a long-term observational cohort study that included participants between 1995 and 1998, with a mean follow-up of 11.1 years. Analyses were performed in September 2018. Within the SHHS, we compared patients with obesity and severe OSA with (n = 81) and without (n = 311) prescription of PAP therapy, after matching patients from each group by age, sex, and apnea-hypopnea index. Of 392 study participants, 316 (80.6%) were men, and mean (SD) age was 63.1 (11.0) years. Ninety-six deaths occurred; 12 among the prescribed-PAP group and 84 among the nonprescribed-PAP group, yielding crude incidence rates of 12.8 vs 24.7 deaths per 1000 person-years. In Cox multivariate analysis, the hazard ratio (HR) of all-cause mortality for prescribed PAP therapy was 0.38 (95% CI, 0.18-0.81). After propensity matching, the HR of all-cause mortality for prescribed PAP therapy was 0.58 (95% CI, 0.35-0.96). According to survival curves, the difference in mortality appears 6 to 7 years after initiation of PAP therapy. The authors concluded that positive airway pressure prescription is associated with reduced all-cause mortality, and this association appears several years after PAP initiation. If replicated, these findings may have strong clinical implications.

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