About 50 million Americans suffer from sleep-related problems with sleep apnea being one of the most common and serious conditions. Sleep apnea involves the repetitive collapse of the airway while sleeping, which closes off the airway and blocks airflow. While most people who suffer from sleep apnea are middle-aged or elderly and overweight, people of any age, race, or gender may have this problem.
Sleep apnea can shorten your lifespan, so it’s important to have it diagnosed and treated as soon as you experience symptoms. Common warning signs and symptoms of sleep apnea include:
- Awaking with a sore throat
- Loud persistent snoring
- Silent pauses during breathing
- Choking or gasping sounds
- Lack of energy during the day
- Fatigue while driving
- Headaches in the morning
- Restless sleep
- Frequent bathroom visits
- Difficulty concentrating
- Mood changes and irritability
- Decreased interest in sex
Sleep apnea can lead to premature death. Research shows that mortality risks are higher in those who have sleep apnea because it interrupts circadian rhythms, throws off the chemistry between the body and brain, increases blood pressure, disrupts cardiac and respiratory function, and elevates the heart rate. When sleep apnea is allowed to continue untreated, it will likely lead to a shorter death.
People with untreated sleep apnea are more likely to have a heart attack, twice as likely to have a stroke and more than three times the risk of premature death. Those who have suffered from sleep apnea for up to 5 years have a 30% jump in their risk of suffering a heart attack or dying, according to a Yale University study.
The level of severity of your sleep apnea increases your risk for either a heart attack or death. An 18-year mortality follow-up study published in Sleep in 2008 found that over 40% of the deaths in those with severe sleep apnea were due to cardiovascular disease. The chance of heart-related death was over five times greater among those with untreated severe sleep apnea as opposed to those who did not have the condition.
A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine in 2005 found that people who suffer from sleep apnea are more likely to die in their sleep due to a sudden heart attack. On the other hand, people who don’t have sleep apnea tend to die of heart attacks during the day.
The key is to treat your sleep apnea sooner rather than later. As shown by the research, untreated sleep apnea may lead to tragic results. If you suspect you have sleep apnea, talk to your doctor as soon as possible about seeing a sleep specialist who can recommend treatment options.
Dr. Clifford Brown and the OSA team are here to answer any questions you have about sleep apnea and treatment. We’ll help you find the solution that will help you get a better, healthier night’s sleep. Call us at (631) 983-2463 to schedule an appointment with our team today.