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Weight loss surgery does not cure sleep apnoea

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Bariatric surgery does not solve the problem of obstructive sleep apnoea in people that are obese, show study findings published online in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.

Researchers recruited 24 patients referred to a pulmonary critical care and sleep medicine service in the US. Subjects were assessed by overnight polysomnography before, and one year after bariatric surgery.

The operations reduced patients’ body mass index from an average of 51 to 32. However, 17 (71%) still had moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnoea one year afterwards. Only one patient (4%) no longer met the criteria for diagnosis of the condition.

But more surprisingly, researchers found patients in the study felt the surgery had actually improved their problem, found researchers from the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington DC.

Only seven patients (29%) said they snored post-operatively while the one year polysomnography assessment revealed that the actual figure was 23 (96%).

‘Despite the persistence and severity of the disease, most people thought their sleep apnoea was resolved after their weight loss and only a few still used continuous positive airways pressure,’ said Dr Christopher Lettieri, chief of sleep medicine at the hospital.

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