Sleep apnea is described as a breathing disruption when one is sleeping. It can be a deceiving type of sleep disorder; in fact about ninety percent of the people suffering from sleep apnea have no idea that they are having it. This is despite the fact that there are usually episodes where one gasps for air and of chocking during the night. Some people do not have a recollection of having struggled for breath at night the next day.
In most cases, it is the sleeping partner, if any, who becomes the first person to notice this condition. If this disorder is untreated, it can end up as a life threatening situation. There are two kinds of sleep apnea. Central sleep apnea comes about because of a disorder in the central nervous system, which prevents the brain from transmitting signals telling the body to breath. The other kind is known as Obstructive sleep apnea. Some of the dangers associated with the condition are discussed below.
In 2007, the University of Yale carried out a study in which they discovered that there was some relation between heart attacks and sleep apnea. The study showed that the complication increased the chances of a heart attack by thirty percent in a period of four to five years. This is because there is usually a collapse of the top airway and at the same time oxygen is cut from the lungs as the body is involved in a fight or flight type of response. This in turn decreases the flow of blood that is going to the heart. The two actions make the pressure of blood go up and as time passes, the heart gets worn out.
Among the other dangers of sleep apnea is death. The brain acts as a control center for the body. There is a short circuit in the brain that takes place in the patients with such a problem. Furthermore, the respiratory center found in the brain has not been triggered to instruct the body to begin breathing again. Due to this, a patient suffering from sleep apnea cannot breathe for a long time. Ideally, a normal human being should not die from this problem since if there is a slight oxygen drop; the brain jogs itself so that the body can resume a normal cycle of breathing. Carbon dioxide grows and then puts pressure on the heart, which then swells with time and this can cause death or a heart attack.
If an individual continues missing breathing cycles, the total flow of oxygen drops much lower than hyxopia, which is the normal level. At the same time, carbon dioxide increases and this is referred to as hypercapnea. With time, this trend has some adverse effects to the body. The brain cells require oxygen for survival and if levels of oxygen continue to reduce, it may lead to death in the long run. In patients suffering from sleep apnea, breathing can become faster and therefore the body blows away the build up carbon dioxide hence it receives more oxygen. In addition, sleep apnea can cause depression and in a worse scenario suicidal thoughts.
It is very important for those suffering from sleep apnea to work at losing weight since the condition tends to be aggravated by much fat around the throat and neck area. In turn, this makes the airways narrower and makes it much easier for an obstruction to be experienced. In a mild form, the complication can be treated if one follows a program for weight loss. This will reduce the severity of the apnea. A study carried out in Finland showed that the loss of weight has a significant impact on the reduction of this complication. The trial was carried out amongst 81 patients, who were divided into two groups. The first group was made to follow a strict diet and received lifestyle counseling. At the end of it all, the people in the first group were able to lose more than 20 pounds in one year. The researchers said that the loss in weight reduced the symptoms of the sleep apnea.
The other group underwent only lifestyle counseling. The loss of weight that was recorded in this group was less than 6 pounds and there was less improvement in the apnea symptoms than was the case in the first group. According to Dr Henri PI Tuomilehto from the University Hospital of Kuopio in Finland, there will be a greater improvement in obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), if the waist circumference or body weight changes. No doubt, mild sleep apnea was able to be cured in eighty eight per cent of patients. They were also able to lose more than thirty three pounds.
There are a number of studies that support a connection between stroke and sleep apnea. As matter of fact, the problem is usually found in patients who have previously experienced a stroke. One specific study published on the New England Journal of Medicine came up with the idea that patients suffering from sleep apnea were at a double risk of having a stroke than those who did not have the problem.
Another study known as the Sleep Heart Health Study discovered an association between heart attack, heart failure and stroke. This is because during breath cessation episodes, the levels of oxygen in blood lowers and this increases pressure on the blood vessels and heart. Additionally, there is a chance that there can be a decrease in blood flow to the brain.
Despite both diabetes and sleep apnea being conditions that do not share a direct relation with each other, the latter is known to increase risks for diabetes. Sleep apnea creates a number of symptoms that are synonymous with the diabetic symptoms. Majority of people with diabetic problems have been known to suffer from sleep apnea. The treatment of sleep apnea is essential because of the many dangers associated with the condition including memory problems, impotence, headaches and cardiovascular diseases. In addition, if sleep apnea is not treated in good time it may bring other problems such as car crashes and job impairment. However, the good news is that this condition can not only be diagnosed, but it can be treated as well. There are a number of treatment options that exist.