Sleep apnea is a severe sleeping disorder that can severely impact mental and physical well-being, not to mention the long-term health risks associated with extended periods of disrupted sleep.
Unfortunately, this disorder is alarmingly worldwide, with individuals from all walks of life experiencing symptoms in countries far and wide.
It has been estimated that one in every 25 people suffer from this affliction, indicating a significant and widespread problem that needs to be addressed.
Without proper diagnosis and treatment, the effects of this disorder can worsen over time, making it incumbent upon governments to ensure that people everywhere have access to appropriate care.
Table of Contents
What Is Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that occurs when a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep.
It is often caused by a partial or complete airway blockage due to the relaxation of throat muscles, leading to difficulty breathing and snoring.
Symptoms of this condition can include daytime fatigue, morning headaches, difficulty concentrating, and memory problems. If left untreated, it can result in severe complications like high blood pressure, stroke, heart failure, and even death.
How Is Sleep Apnea Detected?
The diagnosis of sleep apnea typically begins with an evaluation by your doctor, who will ask questions about your medical history and any symptoms you may have experienced.
Your doctor may also recommend a polysomnography (PSG) or overnight sleep study.
During this test, electrodes are placed on different parts of your body to measure oxygen levels in your blood and other vital indicators related to sleep.
Based on these results, your doctor may recommend further treatment, such as lifestyle changes or a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine.
The Effects of Sleep Apnea on Heart Health
Your risk of cardiovascular disease is increased by sleep apnea in several ways.
→Research by the staff of SweetIslandDreams.com states that it causes oxygen levels in your blood to drop during periods when your airway is blocked.
This can put extra strain on your heart, leading to an increased risk of hypertension (high blood pressure), stroke, and other problems related to poor cardiovascular health.
In addition, it can raise your risk of developing atrial fibrillation (a type of irregular heartbeat) or arrhythmia (an abnormal heart rhythm).
→ Another issue is that people with untreated sleep apnea tend to be more prone to obesity, which can further increase their risk of developing heart disease.
It happens due to frequent pauses in breathing during sleep that prevents restful sleep. Further, this results in occurring and causes daytime fatigue, leading many people with untreated sleep apnea to feel too tired to exercise or make healthy food choices.
Hence, they may become overweight or obese over time, a significant risk factor for developing heart disease.
→ Finally, having untreated sleep apnea can also lead to depression and anxiety because it disrupts standard sleeping patterns and causes daytime drowsiness and fatigue.
Both anxiety and depression are linked to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and other detrimental health outcomes like weakened immune systems and a higher risk of death from any cause.
Sleep apnea causes
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and central sleep apnea (CSA) are the two most prevalent types of sleep apnea.
OSA occurs when the airway becomes blocked intermittently due to relaxed throat muscles or excess tissue in the throat area, which collapses into the airway during sleep.
CSA occurs when the brain fails to signal to the muscles that control breathing. Several factors, including drug or alcohol use, stroke or other neurological disorders, heart disease, obesity, hypothyroidism, or certain medications, can cause this.
How Is Sleep Apnea Treated?
The primary treatment for sleep apnea is lifestyle changes such as avoiding alcohol before bedtime, quitting smoking if applicable, limiting caffeine intake before bedtime, and maintaining a healthy weight.
If lifestyle changes don’t relieve symptoms, more aggressive treatments may be necessary, including CPAP therapy or surgery, depending on the cause of the obstruction in the airway (i.e., deviated septum).
Additionally, oral appliances that help open up the airway while sleeping may also be recommended by your doctor if lifestyle changes alone don’t relieve symptoms associated with sleep apnea.
As you can see, untreated sleep apnea can seriously affect your heart health if left unchecked.
That’s why it’s essential for anyone who believes he is suffering from this condition, or any other type of sleeping disorder, to get tested by a medical professional.
Taking steps like this now could save you from facing a range of potential long-term complications down the line.