Sleep Apnea occurs when a person stops breathing repeatedly during sleep and can become life-threatening if not detected and properly treated. During apneic episodes, the oxygen content of the blood decreases causing blood pressure to rise sharply and the heart to slow down or stop.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is caused by a blockage of the airway resulting in sleep disturbances. Each pause in breathing is called an apnea and can last from ten seconds to minutes, and may occur 5 to 40 times or more an house. The lack of oxygen and frequent awakenings have a negative impact on your health. In most cases you are unaware of these breathing disturbances.
Central sleep apnea is when the airway is not blocked but the brain fails to signal the muscles to breathe. Mixed apnea is a combination of Obstructive and Central Apnea.
Chronic hypoxia will irritate the heart and increase the production of Atrial Natriuretic Peptide (ANP). It can contribute to heart disease and stroke. It can also increase the cortisol level, contributing to diabetes and poor treatment response.
Needless to say, the lack of oxygen caused by sleep apnea can have negative long-term consequences for your health.
High Risk Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
- Loud and chronic snoring
- Choking, snorting or gasping during sleep
- Long pauses in breathing
- Morning headaches
- Wake-up with a dry mouth or sore throat
- Forgetfulness and difficult concentrating
- Mood swings
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Going to the bathroom frequently at night
Left untreated, Sleep Apnea could lead to: high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, pre-diabetes and diabetes, lower sex drive, depression, erectile dysfunction, fatigue-related motor vehicle accidents, decreased quality of life, and decreased life expectancy.