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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — One of the biggest advances in health care over the past 15 years is the realization that obstructive sleep apnea can increase the risk of hypertension.
This has led to the use of sleep studies to make diagnoses and various treatments to correct the problem.
As physicians, we have been targeting severe cases but, according to research from Penn State Hershey, even people with mild or asymptomatic sleep apnea still had a fourfold increase in the risk of high blood pressure.
The problem can occur at younger ages.
Mild obstructive sleep apnea was associated with a 90% increased risk for developing hypertension during 10 years of follow up, and among 30-year-olds, mild obstructive sleep apnea was associated with an 80% increase in hypertension risk.
The key is early diagnosis and treatment.
Physicians need to discuss the issue more frequently with patients.