You may know that sleep apnea can disrupt your sleep and cause you to be overly tired the next day. You may even know it makes you irritable, drowsy and keeps you from thinking properly. But what you may not know is that sleep apnea can actually kill you. It sounds crazy but it happens.
Now, it’s unlikely that it will have a direct cause. You may not actually perish in your sleep from the inability to breathe because when your body senses it’s not receiving enough oxygen during sleep, it forces you to wake up. This is when your airways open and you can resume breathing. So it’s highly unlikely that you will suffocate in your sleep. Sudden heart attack? Well, that’s another matter entirely. More on that later.
Just like people don’t die from AIDS directly, they die from the complications that come with HIV. In the same vein, diabetes kills 1.6 million people a year, not directly, but after many years of pain, dysfunction, disability and a shortened lifespan, resulting in poor quality of life and ultimately death.
In the same way, sleep apnea isn’t a direct killer. Rather, it’s a long process that builds over time. According to the American Sleep Apnea Association, mortality risks in clinical research have been shown to be higher in those who have sleep apnea. Not only does sleep apnea disrupt circadian rhythms, it also causes an imbalance in body/brain chemistry, interrupts cardiac and respiratory function, and elevates heart rate and blood pressure. When left untreated, the cold hard fact is that sleep apnea can kill you.
To get the help you need now before your health suffers further, call the Sleep Apnea Center of Michigan (586) 203-2150.
When You Fail to Treat Sleep Apnea…
People who have untreated sleep apnea (whether it’s because they don’t even realize they suffer from it or they ignore it and don’t get treated):
- Are more likely to experience a heart attack.
- Have up to three times higher risk for stroke.
- Have more than three times the risk of premature death.
- Have a 30 percent increase in risk for heart attack or death in those with untreated sleep apnea for five or more years.
The more severe your case is, the higher your risk for either an attack or death. In fact, 42 percent of deaths in those with severe sleep apnea stem from heart disease. In addition, the risk of cardiac-related death is more than five times higher in those with untreated severe sleep apnea than those who don’t have sleep apnea.
Researchers have found that people with obstructive sleep apnea are 2.5 times as likely to have a sudden cardiac death between the hours of 12 a.m. and 6 a.m. as those without it.
So, what’s going on here? According to the Cleveland Clinic, sleep apnea results in abnormal heart rhythms, which can then result in sudden cardiac death. Sleep apnea tends to decrease oxygen levels, activating the fight or flight response and changing chest pressure due to the upper airway closing. This, in turn, puts stress on the heart, causing an increase in inflammation and unhealthy alterations in blood vessels.
The first step is knowing the symptoms and then reaching out for help. It could save your life!