What are Acetazolamides and Can it Help with A CPAP Machine?

A recent study of the drug Acetazolamide is shedding light on the drug’s use in conjunction with CPAP machines for those diagnosed with sleep apnea. The study only shows positive results for those at high altitudes. The drug continues to be part of studies that can help all types of OSA sufferers.

Bottle of acetazolamide.

A new study making the rounds in the news has created somewhat of a stir in the sleep apnea community regarding the use of the drug Acetazolamide in treating Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) at high altitudes for those using Continuous Positive Airway Pressure CPAP machines. Any rigorous scientific study that sheds light on OSA and its treatment is generally a good thing. However, not all studies point to immediate progress today for OSA suffers.

The basis of this new study was to determine if using a combination treatment of acetazolamide and auto-CPAP therapy in patients with obstructive sleep apnea traveling to high altitudes was more effective than CPAP use alone. The double-blind study revealed some positive results including increased nighttime oxygen saturation, lower apnea events per hour, longer sleep time, lower heart rate, and lower blood pressure. The key is that these results were specifically for those at higher altitudes taking the drug in conjunction with the use of CPAP machines. So far, there is little evidence that the drug can be beneficial for those with OSA at any altitude.

Despite the lack of supporting evidence for all OSA patients, Acetazolamide already is a proven drug in treating certain types of glaucoma, epilepsy, and more. The reason for the Swiss study was the drug’s use in the treatment of mountain sickness symptoms.

Acetazolamide is a carbonic anhydrase inhibitor. It reduces fluid pressure in the eyeball by decreasing fluid formation in the eyeball. It also increases the removal of water from the body by the kidney. Acetazolamide also may block certain nerve discharges that may contribute to seizures. The drug has some potentially serious side effects. These include those with adrenal gland problems, low blood levels of potassium or sodium. Others include kidney problems, liver problems (eg, cirrhosis), high blood levels of chloride, or other electrolytes problems.

Still, studies have been ongoing for several decades with the drug as part of therapy to help OSA patients that utilize CPAP machines. One of the most recent studies regarding the drug in apnea patients suffering heart failure is being conducted by Brigham and Women’s Hospital in conjunction with the American Heart Association. Further studies that look at the drug as part of OSA therapy like the Swiss study, which was published in the December 12 issue of JAMA, will certainly be forthcoming. The most important thing is that there is more progress every day for the millions of people around the world that suffer from this condition.

The CPAP Shop commits to enhancing the lives of people with sleep apnea through information and high-quality therapeutic products.  If you have questions about CPAP masks or CPAP machines, please call (866) 414-9700. Or, you can contact us through our website at www.thecpapshop.com.

Chris Vasta CPAP Expert & President at The CPAP Shop


Chris Vasta

Over a 10+ year career at PHH Mortgage managing a $100 million portfolio, Chris Vasta learned the ins and outs of the business world. He learned how to establish business relationships, lead a multi-prong team, and implement strategies for long-term growth. In 2007, Vasta used that experience to transition his role into president of The CPAP Shop. Over his tenure, Vasta has been involved in everything from website design to warehouse layout. His hands-on approach with customers has evolved into an in-depth understanding of the challenges of beginning and adhering to sleep therapy. He often provides his insights on product…