Sleep apnea is a common disorder affecting 18 million Americans, although it is largely left undiscovered, with as few as 5% of cases being correctly diagnosed. The disorder can double the risk of serious disease and cause early death in elderly and middle aged men. The disorder occurs when fatty tissue in the neck or throat blocks or partially blocks the airway during a night’s sleep. Sufferers experience total arrests in breathing several hundred times throughout the night as oxygen levels drop sharply. Sleep apnea, or OSA (Obstructive Sleep Apnea) is a silent killer that can cause heart disease; Diabetes and stroke.
Untreated sleep apnea produces extreme levels of exhaustion and is known to be the cause of many thousands of traffic accidents every year in the US as sufferers fall asleep whilst driving.
Researchers studied 6,400 women and men aged between 40 and 70 years, over 10 years. Most of those studied displayed main sleep apnea effects, such as snoring. Over the period, sleep patterns including breathing; heart rates and brain activity were assessed: half of those studied were found to be suffering with moderate to severe sleep apnea.
Those who were found to be suffering with sleep apnea were then assessed over a further eight to ten years for evidence of illness and disease, fatal or otherwise. The illnesses that featured were mainly heart disease and stroke and also it was found that those men who suffered 11 minutes of severe sleep apnea per night (severe meaning when blood oxygen levels drop to below 90% of that considered to be normal) were at double the risk of death.
For women, results were different as fewer women with sleep apnea were included in the assessment. Sleep apnea is found to affect 25% of men but only 10% of women. Researchers find the results of these findings alarming enough to draw serious attention from physicians and the general community. “With such mounting evidence indicating the range of clinical effects of sleep apnea, awareness amongst health care professionals and the general community needs to increase,” said Dr. Naresh Punjabi, an associate professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore.
The main symptoms of sleep apnea are snoring; loud snoring; daytime tiredness; lapses in concentration. Losing weight might be of benefit to sufferers, along with CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) therapy during sleep.
Sleep apnea treatment is not only beneficial; it could also save your life and prevent you from developing an array of serious illnesses.