Can CPAP Treatment Help Your Heart Rate?

by Kalee

My grandmother is supposed to be sleeping with a CPAP machine, unfortunately she does not use it every time she is napping or nightly.

Lately her heart rate has been extremely low.

The doctor told her that it was that low because she was not using her cpap.

I strongly disagree because she had 2 stents put in 3 weeks ago and has not gotten any better with her breathing or pulse they believe she needs a pacemaker.

My question is: by not using your cpap machine wouldn't you heart rate rise than lower when not using a cpap?


Dear Kalee,

The name of the disorder when the heart is beating too slow is named bradycardia. Sleep apnea makes the heart beating strange; however, the heart rate is not necessarily rising when a patient has sleep apnea.

In fact, the blood pressure - and not the heart rate - is rising in every patient with an untreated sleep disorder. High blood pressure is often diagnosed very late, when the person has already serious side effects from it. That's why the high blood pressure or hypertension is also called "the silent killer".

The heart rate in patients with sleep apnea is a more complicated problem. Heart rate responses to airway obstruction can vary among patients due to differences in severity of some factors, such as:

  • hypoxia - when the body is deprived of adequate oxygen supply,

  • chemosensitivity,

  • the influence of hypoxia on the sinoatrial node from the heart - the pacemaker that generates the rhythm of the heart.
Scientists found that the heart rate of Pickwickian patients (people with obstructive apnea due to obesity) changed drastically, becoming slower during the apnea episodes and very high when breathing resumed.

A study of chemoreflex-baroreflex interactions in divers demonstrated that bradycardia accompany the breath-holding divers. They have similar effects with sleep apnea patients: bradycardia, a rise in blood pressure, and vasoconstriction.

If you hold your breath at the end of expiration, you may feel that the heart rate is not rising, but...decreasing. And after you start breathing again, your heart rate will raise again (it depends of how much CO2 you have in your body).

From a clinical perspective, it is important for your grandmother to use CPAP every time she goes to sleep, even when she takes a nap during the day. CPAP rather than pacemaker implantation is preferred for the initial therapy.

Kalee, I hope it helps. Don't be afraid to comment back.

Remy Thierry
Founder of Sleep Apnea Guide

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Aug 28, 2011
CPAP Help Please
by: Anonymous

For six years i have been chasing a 'vibration' and mechanical noise in my chest. No shortness of breath but sometimes 'chest pain.' I spent a lot of money and was sent to psychiatrists several times. Doc #17 in the UK told me she could hear a systolic murmur and put me on 120 mg of propranalol a day. My symptoms got better over a few months, however, they did not stay away and came back now and again. After six years, i have noticed my heart rate is very low at night (38). I did a sleep study and it shows 21 episodes (i am not sure if they mean i stop breathing or they're partial breaths) and i am trying CPAP. I have stopped the propranalol. But now i wake up twice with what seems to be Afib followed by tacycardia, which is frightening me a lot!!!! Is it possible the proprnalol has conditioned my heart to beat bradycardic and if so, can i hope that these episodes will diminish and go away after some time off the medication? My echo of a few weeks ago shows normal (though i do have trivial mitral and tricuspid leaks). I am frightened that my episodes will increase and wonder if i should resume the propranalol (or perhaps metroprolol); i have noticed also the 'vibration' mentioned earlier has become a 'pulsation' often during the day (perhaps low-level fibrillation?). I am terribly afraid of fibrillation as it may cause major problems. But can i trust it is temporary?

Jun 29, 2011
to Patty
by: Remy

On the contrary, the CPAP can ease the heart from a great amount of effort. With a good oxygenation of the blood, and without apnea episodes during sleep, your heart should have a much easier "life".

Good luck!

Jun 28, 2011
Heart Patient/ Sleep Apnea
by: Patty

I have congestive heart failure, hypertension,
atrial fibrilation, leaky valve. I had a sleep study last night at a sleep disorder clinic and 3 hours after going to sleep I was given a CPAP as the attendant told me I had sleep apnea. I felt so much better today - I had energy and was a happier person.
Is it true or false that a heart patient cannot use a CPAP?

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