March 26, 2012 | Co-authored by Mehmood Butt, M.R.C.P.; Girish Dwivedi, M.D., Ph.D.; Alena Shantsila, M.D., University of Birmingham Center for Cardiovascular Sciences; and Omer Khair, M.D., with the Department of Respiratory Medicine at City Hospital in Birmingham.

A nightly breathing treatment may do more than help people with obstructive sleep apnea get a good night’s rest — it may also help prevent heart failure.

In a study published in Circulation: Heart Failure, a journal of the American Heart Association, researchers in the U.K. discovered that moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can cause changes in the heart’s shape and function, similar to the effects of hypertension. These changes include increased mass, thickening of the heart wall and reduced pumping ability.

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