submitted by Benjamin R. Solomon, MD, www.sleepcenterofbuckscounty.com
Are you on a medication to lower your cholesterol or blood pressure? Have you been told that your blood sugar or weight is higher than it should be? Do you snore, choke, cough or gasp while you sleep? If you can answer YES to any of these questions, you may have a condition known as Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA).
The word apnea means “without breath.” Patients with OSA stop breathing during the night, sometimes as much as 100 times per hour! When the apnea occurs, oxygen levels in your body fall quickly. A normal oxygen level is 95%-100%. A person with OSA can have oxygen levels fall to 70% to 80%. When you consider that an average person sleeps for six to eight hours a night, oxygen levels can be dangerously low for OSA patients for long periods of time. This causes brain, heart, pancreas and liver damage.
When apnea occurs, the brain attempts to wake the person up to take the next breath. The brain never gets to rest, which results in daytime sleepiness, memory problems and poor concentration. OSA increases the risk of dying from a heart attack by 30% and causes high blood pressure! The damage OSA causes to the pancreas can result in adult onset diabetes and diabetic patients with sleep apnea are at a greater risk for blindness and amputations.
Finally, OSA can elevate cholesterol levels, which leads to heart attacks and strokes. If you are concerned that your or someone close to you has OSA, contact a Sleep Medicine physician at an accredited sleep center. One call could save your life!