Obstructive sleep apnea does more than interfere with your ability to get a good night’s sleep. If left untreated, this common sleep disorder that affects an estimated 18 million Americans can have life-threatening consequences – including, among others, heart disease.Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy has long been considered the gold-standard treatment for sleep apnea. And lucky for sleep apnea patients, CPAP therapy does more than just help with the obvious symptoms of sleep apnea. According to a new study, CPAP therapy can actually reduce the risk of heart disease associated with this disorder.As the American Physiological Society explained in a press release, individuals with sleep apnea experience elevated sympathetic nerve activity due to changes in their brain stem. Since these are the nerves responsible for preparing the body to respond to stress, this elevated activity can result in hypertension and other cardiovascular issues.The researchers involved in the study examined sympathetic nerve activity in sleep apnea patients before and after six months of CPAP therapy and found that CPAP therapy restored brain stem function and reduced sympathetic nerve activity.“These data strongly suggest that functional and anatomical changes within the brain stem, which we believe underlie the elevated sympathetic activity in individuals with untreated obstructive sleep apnea, can be restored to healthy levels by CPAP treatment,” wrote the researchers, as reported by the American Physiological Society.Interestingly enough, this isn’t the first study to link CPAP therapy with a reduced risk of health issues. In May 2015, researchers from the University of Chicago found that CPAP therapy can lower the risk of diabetes and an October 2014 study showed that CPAP therapy can reverse brain damage caused by sleep apnea.So there you have it, CPAP users: Further proof that proper CPAP compliance is good for your health. Remember, if you’re having problems with your CPAP mask – like if you find that it smells unpleasant or that it’s making you sick – this could be a sign that you’re not cleaning it well enough. Do yourself a favor and get a SoClean Automated CPAP Equipment Cleaner so you can experience the fastest, easiest, most effective way to clean your CPAP equipment!