Sleep apnea is dangerous because it prevents you from getting normal, restorative sleep. Every time your airway is blocked, your brain awakens you (very briefly) to re-open the airway. This disrupts normal sleep patterns and cycles. In addition, the stop breathing episodes can cause dangerous decreases in blood oxygen levels, robbing your brain and vital organs of the oxygen they require. Sleep apnea increases your risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, obesity, erectile dysfunction and even depression and anxiety.
Here are seven health problems linked to obstructive Sleep Apnea:
High blood pressure
Obstructive Sleep Apnea can contribute to high blood pressure in people who have it. The frequent night time wakings that plague people with sleep apnea cause hormonal systems to go into overdrive, which results in high blood pressure levels at night. Low blood-oxygen levels, caused by the cutoff of oxygen, may also contribute to hypertension in people with sleep apnea. Some good news … some people with high blood pressure who are treated for sleep apnea can cut back on their blood pressure medications.
People with obstructive sleep apnea are more likely to suffer heart attacks and even die in the middle of the night. The causes may be low oxygen or the stress of waking up often during sleep. Stroke and atrial fibrillation – a problem with the rhythm of the heartbeat – is also associated with obstructive sleep apnea. The disrupted oxygen flow caused by sleep apnea makes it hard for your brain to regulate the flow of blood in arteries and the brain itself. Learn more about sleep apnea and heart disease, stroke on American Heart Association website.
Type 2 diabetes
Sleep apnea is very common among people with type 2 diabetes – up to 80% of diabetics have some obstructive sleep apnea. Obesity is a common risk factor for both disorders. Although studies haven’t shown a clear link between sleep apnea alone and type 2 diabetes, sleep deprivation can cause insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes.
Adding weight raises your risk of sleep apnea, with up to two-thirds of people with sleep apnea severely overweight. Obstructive sleep apnea can often be cured if you lose enough weight, but that can be tough to do. Being overweight causes fatty deposits in the neck that block breathing at night. In turn, sleep apnea impairs the body’s endocrine systems, causing the release of the hormone ghrelin, which makes you crave carbohydrates and sweets. Also, people with sleep apnea who are tired and sleepy all the time may have a lower metabolism, which can also contribute to weight gain. Getting treatment for sleep apnea can make you feel better, with more energy for exercise and other activities. Click here for Sleep Foundation article on loosing weight with sleep apnea.
Although the link to obstructive sleep apnea is not proven, people who are treated may find they have fewer asthma attacks.
There’s no proof that sleep apnea causes acid reflux, persistent heartburn, but many people complain of acid reflux, and treating it seems to improve sleep apnea symptoms, say sleep physicians.
A new study finds that obstructive sleep apnea is associated with a significantly increased risk of motor vehicle accidents, and this risk is reduced when sleep apnea is treated effectively using continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy.
How do you know if you have sleep apnea?
There are number of common signs and symptoms of sleep apnea. If you recognize these symptoms in yourself or your partner, please contact Accent Sleep Solutions.