Severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea Can Be Life Threatening

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IT MAY COME as a surprise to some but loud snoring can suggest that your heart is at risk. A certified sleep medicine physician can help.

(NAPS)—Here’s news many may find eye-opening: Untreated, severe ob­structive sleep apnea more than doubles your risk of dying from heart disease, the National Healthy Sleep Awareness Project warns.

To raise awareness of this and to urge individuals with symptoms of sleep apnea to talk to a doctor about their risk, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Sleep Research Soci­ety (SRS) and other partners created the “Sleep Apnea Hurts Hearts” campaign.

“Obstructive sleep apnea is a dan­gerous disease that can severely dam­age your heart if left untreated,” said Dr. Ronald Chervin, president of the AASM. “With millions of sufferers re­maining undiagnosed, it is critical to raise nationwide awareness about ob­structive sleep apnea so that it can be treated with CPAP therapy, which can reduce the risk of cardiovascular death.”

Nearly 30 million American adults are kept from restful sleep by obstruc­tive sleep apnea, a chronic disease that involves the repeated collapse of the up­per airway during sleep. According to the National Healthy Sleep Awareness Project, there are five key warning signs and risk factors for sleep apnea: snoring, choking or gasping during sleep; fatigue or daytime sleepiness; obesity (BMI of 30 or higher) and high blood pressure.

Severe Damage

Millions of people with sleep apnea remain untreated, which can lead to dangerous health consequences—in­cluding life-threatening effects on heart health. The National Healthy Sleep Awareness Project warns that untreat­ed, severe obstructive sleep apnea hurts HEARTS by increasing the risk of:

H—Heart failure

E—Elevated blood pressure

A—Atrial fibrillation

R—Resistant hypertension

T—Type 2 diabetes

S—Stroke.

“It is clear that untreated, severe ob­structive sleep apnea may have a dev­astating impact on heart health,” said Janet B. Croft, Ph.D., senior chronic disease epidemiologist in CDC’s Divi­sion of Population Health. “Those who have symptoms of sleep apnea such as loud snoring in addition to obesity and a heart problem or high blood pressure should discuss their risk for sleep apnea with their doctor.”

The American Heart Association (AHA) recently released a scientific state­ment on sleep duration and quality, which stated that moderate and severe sleep ap­nea are associated with an elevated risk of cardiovascular disease. The authors of the AHA statement recommended that a public health campaign addressing sleep behavior should be launched to promote ideal cardiac health.

Damage Control

Fortunately, treatments for obstruc­tive sleep apnea are available. Follow­ing diagnosis by a board-certified sleep medicine physician, the most common­ly prescribed treatment for sleep apnea is continuous positive airway pressure therapy—or CPAP. This treatment uses mild levels of air pressure, provided through a mask, to keep the throat open while you sleep. According to a recent meta-analysis of 27 studies involving more than 3 million participants, the risk of cardiovascular mortality was reduced to normal levels in people with sleep apnea who were treated with CPAP therapy.

The National Healthy Sleep Aware­ness Project recommends that people who have been prescribed CPAP therapy for sleep apnea should use the treatment nightly to reduce their risk of cardio­vascular death. Individuals who prefer a treatment alternative can discuss their treatment options with a board-certified sleep medicine physician at a sleep dis­orders center that is accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

Learn More

To find an accredited sleep center near­by or to learn how you can guard your heart from sleep apnea to avoid being #Snoredto­Death, visit www.projecthealthy- sleep.org.

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