Obstructive sleep apnea affects around 20 million Americans and can lead to hypertension, heart attack, stroke, depression, muscle pain, fibromyalgia, morning headaches, and excessive daytime sleepiness.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Even Mild Sleep Apnea Can Be Serious Health Risk

According to a study published this month in the American Thoracic Society's American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, even people with "minimally-symptomatic" obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can face serious consequences in terms of cardiovascular health.

The symptoms of sleep apnea are relatively easy to identify once you know what you're looking for. Snoring, daytime sleepiness, weight gain, impaired cognitive function and focus, can make a very clear pattern pointing in the direction of sleep apnea. But as little as 1 in 5 sleep apnea sufferers actually manifests the discernible symptoms of sleep apnea. Because they are harder to identify and study, the risk these people, with only mild to moderate OSA, face has not been studied in the past. However, this study, conducted by the Oxford Centre for Respiratory Medicine, identifies the significant risk of cardiovascular damage even in very mild cases of OSA.

According to the study's results, people with sleep apnea had blood vessels less able to expand and contract to regulate blood flow, and their arteries were significantly more stiff than non-apneic subjects. Surprisingly, apnea sufferers had higher blood pressure, but not significantly.

Although blood pressure was not determined to be a factor in this study, the cardiovascular symptoms pointed to by the study still represent an increased risk for people with even mild, largely asymptomatic OSA.

If you experience even intermittent hints that you may suffer from sleep apnea, the potential dangers of sleep apnea justify undergoing evaluation to determine the presence or absence of the condition. And if you have only mild OSA, it is more likely that you can receive good results with non-invasive, comfortable oral appliance therapy. Schedule a sleep apnea consultation with the Snoring and Sleep Apnea Treatment Center in Gurnee, Illinois, to learn more.

posted by Dr. Candelaria at 2:39 PM