Getting a good night's sleep is merely a dream for those with obstructive sleep apnea, as the ability to breathe is too frequently interrupted due to blocked airways. But lack of sleep is just the beginning of the wide variety of problems that sleep apnea creates.
Obstructive sleep apnea, the most common type of sleep apnea, may be linked with an increased risk for osteoporosis according to a recent study. Osteoporosis is the most common form of bone disease, according to Medline Plus, affecting 50 percent of women after the age of 50 years with fractures of hip, vertebra or wrist.
Women and older people are especially vulnerable. Sleep apnea can also increase risk for cardiovascular disease, heart attack and stroke if it isn't treated.
The study has determined that even the skeletal system can suffer consequences, perhaps due to the intermittent oxygen deprivation which contributes to weakened bones.
Bone fractures, along with the expense and problems that come with them, are often the unfortunate consequences. In some cases, death can result.
Treatment for 1,377 people with obstructive sleep apnea was followed from 2000 through 2008. Records were used from Taiwan's single-payer National Health Insurance program.
Over the next six years, data on the rate of osteoporosis diagnosis for those participants was compared to that for 20,644 people without the disorder. Osteoporosis incidence was 2.7 times higher for those with obstructive sleep apnea than among those without the condition.
The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM) for the Endocrine Society.
Clinical trials were performed at the University of Sydney in Australia. Findings pointed to a link between moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea and higher risk for cancer, stroke and death. Obstructive sleep apnea affects up to 5 percent of women and 7 percent of men, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
A 20-year study indicated two and a half times the risk for cancer, three times the risk for death from cancer, almost four times the risk for stroke, and four times the risk of death.
Results from the study were published in the April 15, 2014 edition of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
Data was gathered using a portable home sleep device.
During the 20-year followup, 77 participants had died, 31 had suffered strokes. There were 125 cases of cancer, 39 of which were fatal.
Higher health risks were only found to be associated with moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea, not with mild cases.
American Academy of Sleep Medicine President Dr. Safwan Badr was quoted in an article on Sciencedaily.com as issuing a caution. "People with symptoms of sleep apnea, such as loud and frequent snoring or silent pauses in breathing during sleep, should see a board certified sleep medicine physician for a comprehensive sleep evaluation."
The study was funded with grants from the National Health and Medical Research Council in Australia.
Osteoporosis risk heightened among sleep apnea patients. Sciencedaily.com. Retrieved May 26, 2014.
Severe sleep apnea linked to increased risk of stroke, cancer, death. Sciencedaily.com. Retrieved May 26, 2014.
Osteoporosis - overview. NLM.NIH.gov. Retrieved May 26, 2014.
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Reviewed May 27, 2014
by Michele Blacksberg RN