New studies show that sleep apnea can affect many aspects of health, including an increased risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke and depression.
Current estimates show that over 25 million adults in the United States have sleep apnea. That number has increased significantly in the last 20 years.
“Obstructive sleep apnea is destroying the health of millions of Americans, and the problem has only gotten worse over the last two decades,” said American Academy of Sleep Medicine President Dr. Timothy Morgenthaler. Morgenthaler is a national spokesperson for the Healthy Sleep Project.
Obstructive sleep apnea is a chronic condition that disrupts sleep by causing stops and starts in breathing.
People with sleep apnea typically take shallow breaths or have pauses in breathing while they sleep. Pauses can last from several seconds to minutes, and may happen 30 or more times an hour.
Breathing often resumes with a choking sound or loud snort. People with sleep apnea also often snore loudly.
Research shows that 26 percent of adults between the ages of 30 and 70 have sleep apnea. This condition can have negative effects on brain and heart health which can be reduced using continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) while sleeping.
Because pauses in breathing disrupt deep sleep, people with untreated sleep apnea may not feel rested after a full night’s sleep and often feel tired during the day.
Other signs of sleep apnea include waking up with a sore throat or dry mouth, waking with a headache, and problems with attention.
Recent studies highlight the health risks associated with sleep apnea:
• Researchers in Taiwan concluded that people with sleep apnea may have a higher risk of developing osteoporosis. Osteoporosis causes bones to become brittle and more likely to break. (4)
• Researchers in Taiwan also determined that obstructive sleep apnea can increase the risk of pneumonia. (5)
• Untreated sleep apnea can result in high blood pressure that is resistant to medications. Poor blood pressure control can significantly increase cardiovascular risks. (6)