An emerging body of research explores the effects of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and its relationship to low bone-mineral density. Here are the current findings and who is most at risk.
Low Bone Density Correlation
While the link between obstructive sleep apnea and low bone density has yet to be explored, there is a clear association between the two. Multiple studies, including meta-analysis, have found a significant correlation between those with OSA and low bone density. None of these studies have found a causal relationship between the two disorders, but there is a clear link.
The biggest concern in these findings is that low bone-mineral density is a crucial indicator of osteoporosis. This illness is characterized by weak, brittle bones that can cause frequent fractures. These fractures commonly occur in the hips, wrists, and spine.
Who Is Most Affected?
The link between the two issues has been observed more commonly in women and older individuals. This finding is not surprising; osteoporosis affects women and older individuals significantly more often than young people and males.
Causes and Treatments
While we aren’t entirely sure what causes the link between low bone density and obstructive sleep apnea, there are a few theories. One includes that a lack of oxygen caused by OSA contributes to a reduction in osteoblast growth, which signals your bones to grow.
There aren’t cures for either disease, but there are treatments. For osteoporosis, exercise, a healthy diet, and supplements for bone health are often recommended as treatments or preventions. Exercise and a healthy diet may also help to decrease sleep apnea symptoms. However, the primary treatment for sleep apnea is often a PAP machine. These will help you breathe during sleep, possibly preventing the hypoxia that can influence the development of other conditions.
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