Making use of compression stockings could very well be an easy method for improving obstructive sleep apnea in people who have chronic venous insufficiency.
Researchers found that daytime fluid accumulation in the legs in individuals having chronic venous insufficiency was reduced with compression stockings, which led to a reduction in the amount of fluid flowing into the neck while asleep, and thus a reduction of more than a 3rd of the number of apneas.
Chronic venous insufficiency happens whenever an individual’s veins are not able to pump sufficient oxygen-depleted blood back to the heart, usually taking place in the veins of the lower limbs.
Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) devices are typically one of the only treatments presently suggested for people with obstructive sleep apnea. Compliance is however low, as some find making use of a mask through the night prohibitively uncomfortable, resulting in a lot of people having untreated obstructive sleep apnea together with its significant health consequences. Coming up with a more effective way of managing obstructive sleep apnea is therefore a high priority.
Fluid accumulation is counteracted in the legs of active people through contractions of the leg muscle which squeeze the veins. Lengthy periods of being seated could however prevent this process, and overnight the accumulated leg fluid then shifts rostrally. This shift leads to fluid accumulation in neck tissue and is considered to increase apneic events through increasing the amount of the tissue, resulting in repetitive collapse of the pharynx while breathing at night. In normally healthy individuals with hypertension or heart failure, the amount of this rostral fluid shift at night is clearly correlated with the amount of increase in the circumference of the neck at night and the amount of apneas and also hypopnea each hour of sleep.
The researchers randomly selected 12 people to make use of the compression stockings for 1 week or a control period without any compression stockings for 1 week. Every individual had a polysomnogram and overnight changes in neck circumference and leg fluid volume were measured at the beginning and the end of the compression stocking and control periods.
Individuals had an average of a 62% decrease in overnight leg fluid volume change at the completion of the compression stocking period, in comparison to when they didn’t use the stockings. Individuals also had a 60% decrease in increase of neck circumference, that the researchers made use of as a proxy measurement to approximate fluid shift in to the neck and a 36% decrease in the amount of apneas and hypopnea every hour of sleep.