Health Experts and Studies Answer the Question: Is sleep apnea dangerous?
When people think about sleep apnea, they often associate it with one huge nighttime annoyance: snoring! You are right to be bothered—snoring has its share of the blame for bothering bed partners, perhaps causing arguments, maybe restless sleep for the both of you, or even causing you to resort to a second bedroom for sleep. But bad sleep and a disturbed partner aren’t the only reasons to fear sleep apnea. You might be wondering, “Wait, is sleep apnea dangerous?” And the answer is yes!
All jokes aside, sleep apnea is actually a disease that needs to be taken seriously. When you have Obstructive Sleep Apnea, your airway is blocked, and you may be waking up 30 times an hour or more. It’s more than snoring—it’s causing all sorts of health issues because it is not allowing you to get restorative sleep you need to be healthy! Below we summarize findings from health experts to answer your question, Is sleep apnea dangerous? Here are just a few dangerous conditions linked with sleep apnea:
- Excessive daytime sleepiness. This may cause you to be moody, have trouble concentrating, or fall asleep during the day. This can be especially dangerous when driving. According to an American Academy of Sleep Medicine study, drivers with sleep apnea are at an increased risk—they were 2.5 times more likely to be the driver in a car accident.
- High blood pressure. Obstructive Sleep Apnea causes your blood oxygen levels to drop suddenly. When this happens, your body releases adrenaline—and these high levels of stress hormones contribute to your risk of hypertension. This is just one possible contributing factor to the link. A Johns Hopkins study showed that people with moderate to severe sleep apnea were more than twice as likely to suffer from high blood pressure than those with no breathing pauses.
- Diabetes. Sleep apnea is linked to insulin resistance. According to Johns Hopkins, evidence suggests a link between sleep apnea and diabetes. “Our lab and others have shown that sleep apnea is associated with higher risks of diabetes, independent of obesity, and that sleep apnea can increase blood sugar levels,” says Jun. Jonathan Jun, M.D. , a pulmonary and sleep medicine specialist at the Johns Hopkins Sleep Disorders Center. Read the full article, The Dangers of Uncontrolled Sleep Apnea.
- Irregular heartbeat. Mayo Clinic reports the dangers of heart disease combined with sleep apnea. According to the Mayo Clinic, “If you have heart disease, multiple episodes of low blood oxygen (hypoxia or hypoxemia) can lead to sudden death from an irregular heartbeat.”
- Heart attacks. The combination of high blood pressure, which damages blood vessels, and sleep disturbances leading to high levels of cholesterol and blood fats, leads to clogged arteries and heart disease. Because of this, Harvard Health reports that “people with untreated sleep apnea are twice as likely to have a heart attack compared with those who don’t have the disorder.”
- Strokes. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine conducted a 20-year study that showed people with moderate to severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea were nearly 4 times more likely to have a stroke than people without.
So now you know the answer to the question, “Is Sleep Apnea dangerous?” Are you ready to take snoring seriously? It’s time to get on a path to good health. Visit Rondeau and Associates today to start your path to understanding if you have sleep apnea, and how it can be treated.