The effect of continuous positive airway pressure treatment on blood pressure: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials

J Clin Sleep Med. 2012 Oct 15;8(5):587-96. doi: 10.5664/jcsm.2170.


Study objectives: We sought to provide an updated systematic review and meta-analysis of studies investigating the effect of positive airway pressure (PAP) treatment for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) on systolic and diastolic blood pressure (SBP, DBP).

Methods: Two independent investigators undertook a systematic search of the PubMed database (1980-2012) to identify randomized controlled trials comparing therapeutic PAP to sham-PAP, pill placebo, or standard care over at least one week in adult OSA patients without major comorbidities. The mean, variance, and sample size for diurnal and nocturnal SBP and DBP data were also extracted independently from each study. Random effects meta-analyses were conducted, followed by pre-specified subgroup and meta-regression analyses.

Results: 32 studies were identified, with data available from 28 studies representing n = 1,948 patients. The weighted mean difference in diurnal SBP (-2.58 mm Hg, 95% CI -3.57 to -1.59 mm Hg) and DBP (-2.01 mm Hg, 95% CI -2.84 to -1.18 mm Hg) both significantly favored PAP treatment over control arms, with similar results seen in nocturnal readings. Statistically significant reductions in BP were seen in studies whose patients were younger, sleepier, had more severe OSA, and exhibited greater PAP adherence. Meta-regression indicated that the reductions in DBP with PAP were predicted by mean baseline BP (β = -0.22, p = 0.02) and Epworth Sleepiness Scale scores (β = -0.27, p = 0.04).

Conclusions: PAP treatment for OSA is associated with modest but significant reductions in diurnal and nocturnal SBP and DBP. Future research should be directed towards identifying subgroups likely to reap greater treatment benefits as well as other therapeutic benefits provided by PAP therapy.

Keywords: Systematic review; blood pressure; hypertension; lung; meta-analysis; obstructive sleep apnea; positive airway pressure.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Blood Pressure* / physiology
  • Continuous Positive Airway Pressure*
  • Humans
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / physiopathology
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / therapy*