By Trevor Hunnicutt
(Reuters) -U.S. President Joe Biden has begun using a continuous positive airway pressure machine, or CPAP, to address a long-standing problem with sleep apnea, White House officials said on Wednesday.
“Since 2008, the president has disclosed his history with sleep apnea in thorough medical reports. He used a CPAP machine last night, which is common for people with that history,” White House spokesperson Andrew Bates said.
Another White House official said Biden had begun using the CPAP machine in recent weeks to improve his sleep quality.
Biden was seen by reporters on Wednesday with marks on his face indicating he had been wearing some type of wide strap. Many CPAP users wear a mask held on by a strap.
Bloomberg News first reported Biden’s use of the machine.
Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder characterized by brief interruptions of breathing during sleep. It can cause snoring and daytime fatigue and can lead to high blood pressure or heart problems, according to the Mayo Clinic. In the most common form of sleep apnea, the throat muscles relax, blocking the flow of air into the lungs.
Biden, 80, is the oldest person to serve as U.S. president, and both his age and health have been a focus of voters as he seeks a second, four-year term in the 2024 election. Age is one of several factors that increase the risk of developing sleep apnea.
Public opinion polling shows that a majority of Americans have concerns about Biden’s age.
In February, his doctor declared him healthy and “fit for duty” after a physical examination.
The doctor’s report on Biden’s physical did not mention sleep apnea but said Biden has dealt with “sinus congestion for most of his life,” and that “sinus symptoms have improved after several sinus and nasal passage surgeries.”
(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt and Steve Holland; writing by Costas Pitas; Editing by Tim Ahmann and Jonathan Oatis)
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