Can Sleep Apnea Kill You?

Many individuals ponder whether sleep apnea is fatal. Short breathing pauses while sleeping is probably not the actual cause of death. But it can raise your risk of passing away from other serious illnesses. Diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure are all made worse by sleep apnea.

Even though they only want a good night’s sleep, nearly 30 million Americans struggle with sleep apnea. Furthermore, those who are not diagnosed are not included in this sizeable number. Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that seriously disrupts not only your sleep but also the sleep of those around you. And the results of not receiving treatment can be fatal.

What Is Sleep Apnea?

When you have sleep apnea, you frequently stop breathing during the night. This might be due to something obstructing the airway, or perhaps there’s a problem with your breathing reflex. There are three types of sleep apnea:

Central: The brain fails to communicate with the breathing muscles.

Obstructive: The airway is blocked by soft throat or neck tissues. The most typical type is this.

Complex: Both central and obstructive sleep apnea is present in this case.

Up to 400 times a night, sleep apnea causes you to stop and start breathing. The body is thus deprived of the oxygen it requires to perform at its peak. Your personal and professional lives may suffer as a result of all those stops and starts.

When Does Sleep Apnea Become Serious?

Sleep apnea can range in severity. Adults and children are thought to experience breathing pause up to five times an hour, respectively. Even normal sleep-stage transitions sometimes include these occurrences.

An OSA diagnosis may be made by a sleep study if breathing disturbances happen more frequently. The following categories are used to classify sleep apnea based on the apnea-hypopnea index (AHI):

Mild: 5-14 events per hour

Moderate: 15-30 events per hour

Severe: More than 30 events per hour

The degree of the oxygen deprivation that results from these events must also be understood. Hypoxemia occurs when oxygen levels drop below 90%.

Every apnea episode may cause the oxygen levels to drop sharply if the patient has heart or lung disease. Overnight, the body may be under more stress as a result. Long- and short-term effects are possible as a result of chronic oxygen deprivation.

Can Sleep Apnea Kill You?

Some contend that apnea may not actually cause you to pass away in your sleep. The body willfully wakes up when it feels like it isn’t getting enough oxygen while it is sleeping. The breathing airways open at this point, and breathing starts up again. You won’t be able to suffocate while you sleep thanks to this mechanism.

However, that is not the issue. Actually, to say that people do not die from AIDS is absurd. No, they pass away from the HIV-related complications that are a given. People who have diabetes can also attest to this. No, diabetes does not instantly kill a person; instead, it causes a number of long-term complications such as reduced lifespan, disability, pain, and dysfunction.

The fact that people with sleep apnea have higher mortality risks than those without it cannot be changed by semantics. Circadian rhythms are thrown off, body and brain chemistry is off, breathing and cardiac function are interrupted, blood pressure is raised, and heart rate is accelerated by sleep apnea. It is unquestionably going to increase mortality for those who don’t treat it if allowed to continue unchecked.

Short-Term Risks

Breathing interruptions may cause cardiac arrhythmia, which can result in cardiac arrest.8 Breathing interruptions can also result in atrial fibrillation, heart attack (myocardial infarction), and even stroke.

These occurrences seem to increase in the morning, which is also when REM sleep occurs more frequently and when sleep apnea is more likely to occur. According to studies, the relative risk of dying suddenly while sleeping occurs between midnight and six in the morning. is about 2.5 times higher for people with OSA.

The good news is that OSA treatment with CPAP (a continuous positive airway pressure machine) appears to reduce the risk of the majority of serious complications and the likelihood that OSA will cause long-term cardiac issues.

Chronic Risks

There is evidence that chronic sleep breathing issues can have significant negative effects on health. Diabetes, heart issues, and high blood pressure (hypertension) could all become more common as a result.

Additionally, it has been linked to depression and memory issues like Alzheimer’s disease.

It causes more drowsiness during the day and could be dangerous.

Consequently, even though OSA isn’t necessarily fatal, many of the issues it can cause can endanger your life. Consequently, it is critical to treat sleep apnea to keep your health in check.

Who Is At Risk For Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

Nobody is completely safe from developing sleep apnea. All ages and sizes of people are impacted. There is a misconception that it only affects adults with bulkier bodies. Sleep apnea can also affect people who are within a healthy weight range and children.

Classic risk factors of sleep apnea include:

Heavier body weight: More fat can accumulate along the upper airway and narrow the opening if you are heavier. About 70% of adults with sleep apnea have this problem.

Larger neck size: Do the collars of your shirts fit snugly? Increased tissue at the tongue’s base and the upper airway is correlated with a larger neck size. This might stop the airflow.

Enlarged tonsils: The back of the throat’s large tonsil tissue can obstruct the windpipe. Large adenoids can also make the nasal passage smaller (at the back of the nose). Both have the potential to make breathing difficult.

Chronic nasal congestion: It might be more difficult to breathe because this is frequently worse at night.

Alcohol: The muscles of the tongue and airway may lose tone as a result, obstructing airflow.

Menopause: The decrease in progesterone that occurs once menopause begins may result in the tongue’s muscles relaxing. Additionally, this group has a propensity for gaining weight.

Smoking: Smoke from cigarettes contains irritants that can result in throat and nasal swelling. The airway may become constrained as a result.

Genetics: Almost 40% of sleep apnea cases are caused by your genetic makeup. You are more likely to inherit sleep apnea if you have certain physical characteristics, such as the way your jaw and airway are shaped.

Close Note

You should get a medical evaluation if you or someone you love is currently suffering from sleep apnea. Don’t discount breathing issues during sleep as unimportant; over time, serious issues can arise.

A sleep study will provide you with a conclusive explanation for the cause, even though other symptoms or signs may hint at the diagnosis. Fortunately, there are efficient treatment options available, such as using a CPAP machine or an oral appliance.

Get the assistance you require to breathe and sleep more comfortably by speaking with your healthcare provider. That decision will make you happy.