Identify sleep apnea & avoid the risks

Snoring, for many, is an annoying problem they face when trying to get to sleep at night or when their bed partner is practically bringing down the walls; forcing them to another room. If, however, you notice your snoring partner stops breathing intermittently and then gasps for air, it could mean there is a problem that could be slowly killing them.

It’s a condition known as sleep apnea, in which the person may experience pauses in breathing five to 30 times per hour or more during sleep. These episodes wake the sleeper as he or she gasps for air. It prevents restful sleep and is associated with high blood pressure, arrhythmia, stroke and heart failure.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in America, while stroke is the number 4 cause of death and a leading cause of disability. High blood pressure is a major risk factor for both. “The evidence is very strong for the relationship between sleep apnea, hypertension and cardiovascular disease generally, so people really need to know that,” said Donna Arnett, Ph.D., chair and professor of epidemiology at the School of Public Health at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the incoming president of the American Heart Association.

It has been found that one in five adults suffer from at least mild sleep apnea, and it afflicts more men than women, Dr. Arnett said. The most common type is obstructive sleep apnea in which weight on the upper chest and neck contributes to blocking the flow of air.

Obstructive sleep apnea is associated with obesity, which is also a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. In addition to obesity contributing to sleep apnea, sleep deprivation caused by sleep apnea can, in an ongoing unhealthy cycle, lead to further obesity.

Does your roommate or sleeping partner complain about your snoring? It’s important to take what they say seriously, as they are often the first to recognize sleep apnea. Please bear in mind that sleep apnea is really hard to detect if you live alone, and it may be wise to have a sleep study conducted. In a sleep study, doctors will count pauses in breathing to determine whether the patient has mild sleep apnea, characterized by five to 15 episodes per hour; moderate sleep apnea, defined by 15 to 30 per hour; or severe sleep apnea, meaning more than 30 each hour.

It’s certainly possible to have simple, loud snoring without sleep apnea. But with regular snoring, the person continues to inhale and exhale. With sleep apnea, the sleeping person tends to have periods when he or she stops breathing and nothing can be heard which means they are not breathing at all. It is as if you are being suffocated all night long. The good news is treatment that keeps the breathing passages open and oxygen flowing can yield fast comfort with either the CPAP or an oral appliance. Don’t continue to suffer the effects of sleep apnea. Rest easier and do your body a favor. Call our offices today to get started.