The Deadly Health Consequences of Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a serious issue. If you don’t think so already, this should convince you: an 18-year study found that people with sleep apnea were 3 times more likely to die during the study than healthy people, from any cause1

That’s right: sleep apnea patients die at 3x the rate of normal sleepers.

Sleep apnea is often labeled as a sleep disorder…but that doesn’t give a full picture of how this condition affects your body and overall health. Learn about the real–and serious–consequences of sleep apnea.

Health Effects of Sleep Apnea

What parts of the body does sleep apnea affect? 

Sleep apnea takes a toll on: 

What diseases and conditions does sleep apnea cause? 

Sleep apnea puts you at greater risk of: 

  • Heart disease: 50% or more of cardiovascular patients have sleep apnea, compared to less than 5% in the overall population2-3
  • High blood pressure: People with moderate to severe sleep apnea are 3 times as likely to have high blood pressure as their healthy counterparts4
  • Stroke: 65% of stroke patients have sleep apnea5
  • Diabetes: People with moderate to severe sleep apnea are over twice as likely to be diagnosed with diabetes6
  • Dementia: People with sleep apnea experience the onset of dementia 10 years earlier than normal sleepers (at 77 versus 90 years old)7
  • Sexual dysfunction: Men with erectile dysufnction are more than twice as likely as their normal counterparts to have sleep apnea8

A new definition of sleep apnea

Sleep apnea is often portrayed, first and foremost, as a sleep disorder–but this can be misleading. Sleep apnea doesn’t just change the way you sleep and your daytime concentration. Its health effects extend to the entire body and are much more serious than a few sleepless nights.

It’s more realistic to look at sleep apnea as a serious chronic health condition. Like high cholesterol, heart disease, or severe obesity, sleep apnea takes a constant toll on your health and can degrade your quality of life. Sleep apnea can absolutely be fatal if it is left untreated.

Fortunately, unlike some of these other conditions, sleep apnea can be effectively and immediately treated, with almost immediate improvements in the resulting health consequences. Use of a PAP machine stops and even reverses the health effects of sleep apnea and can improve your sleep and your health. 

Just like you wouldn’t ignore the threat of heart disease, it’s important not to overlook sleep apnea. Inform yourself about this health problem. If you’re at risk or match any of the symptoms, get tested. If you have sleep apnea, make sure you’re getting the treatment you need. Or if you have any questions about sleep apnea, contact us so we can help you sleep better and live better. 

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1) Young, Terry Ph.D. et al. “Sleep Disordered Breathing and Mortality: Eighteen-Year Follow-up of the Wisconsin Sleep Cohort.” Journal Sleep. 

2) Kasai, Takatoshi, M.D., Ph.D. et al. “Contemporary Reviews in Cardiovascular Medicine.” Circulation Journal from the American Heart Association. 

3) Javaheri, S. M.D. et al. “Sleep Apnea in 81 Ambulatory Male Patients with Stable Heart Failure.” Circulation Journal from the American Heart Association.

4) Peppared, Paul E. Ph.D. et al. “Prospective Study of the Association between Sleep-Disordered Breathing and Hypertension.” The New England Journal of Medicine.

5) Dyken, Mark E. M.D. et al. “Investigating the Relationship Between Stroke and Obstructive Sleep Apnea.” Stroke Journal from the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association.

6) Reichmuth, Kevin J et al. “Association of Sleep Apnea and Type II Diabetes.” American Thoractic Society Journals.

7) Osorio, Ricardo S. et al. “Sleep-disordered breathing advances cognitive decline in the elderly.” Neurology.

8) Berookhim, Boback et al. “Erectile dysfunction is independently associated with sleep apnea in a large population of middle-aged men.” The Journal of Urology.

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