KNOW THE FACTS
Untreated sleep apnea is associated with several health conditions, and some of these can become serious enough to lead to death. In people with sleep apnea, breathing is temporarily restricted or stopped during sleep, which can cause the level of oxygen in the blood to go down and the level of carbon dioxide to rise. This usually causes the sleeper to wake up in order to breathe. Repeated airway obstruction during sleep can contribute to chronic health conditions like diabetes and insulin resistance, changes in blood vessels, stroke, heart failure, abnormal heart rhythms, and even cognitive impairment. (3)
Although obstructive sleep apnea and cardiovascular disease have common risk factors, epidemiologic studies show that sleep apnea increases risks for cardiovascular disease independently of individuals' demographic characteristics (i.e., age, sex, and race) or risk markers (i.e., smoking, alcohol, obesity, diabetes, dyslipidemia, atrial fibrillation, and hypertension). Individuals with severe sleep apnea are at increased risk for coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, and stroke.
OSA is a well-known cause of serious, possibly fatal heart conditions such as chronic hypertension, coronary artery disease, atherosclerosis (fatty deposits in the aorta) and even congestive heart failure, just to name a few. Obstructive sleep apnea increases the risk of heart failure by 140%, the risk of stroke by 60%, and the risk of coronary heart disease by 30%. Thus, sleep apnea is an important target for public health interventions aiming at reducing cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death among adults in developed countries. (4)
Not only is sleep apnea a risk factor for stroke, untreated sleep apnea is associated with poor outcomes after stroke. Stroke is the second-leading cause of death world wide.
The more severe your sleep apnea, the greater the risk of stroke. Studies found that men with moderate to severe sleep apnea were three times as likely to have a stroke as men mild sleep apnea or without sleep apnea. Men with sleep apnea may have a higher risk of stroke because they develop sleep apnea at a younger age.
Sleep apnea also is associated with heart and blood pressure issues, which increase your risk of stroke further. Sleep apnea also increases your risk for heart disease. During obstructive sleep apnea, the body works hard to open the airway and breathe during these episodes, releasing stress hormones and increasing blood pressure. Over time, this can lead to uncontrolled high blood pressure and a heart condition called atrial fibrillation, or A-fib. High blood pressure, which is also called hypertension, and A-fib are both known risk factors for stroke. (5)
It’s estimated that over 100 million Americans have diabetes in some form. People with severe OSA were found to have a 30% higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes than people without OSA. Additionally, those with mild or moderate OSA were found to have a 23% increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes compared to those without OSA. It’s estimated that up to 83% of patients with type 2 diabetes suffer from unrecognized OSA. In addition to this, hyperglycemia caused by diabetes can lead to fatigue, which will only make the daytime sleepiness of sleep apnea worse.
Type 2 diabetes is not irreversible, and the health benefits from managing the condition are lifelong. We are here to talk with you about the signs of OSA you may be demonstrating to assist in managing the problem.