According to the National Sleep Foundation, an estimated 18 million people in the U.S. have sleep apnea. However, those numbers are considered conservative, since they are an approximation based on old studies performed when obesity rates were not as high as they are today. The high rates of sleep apnea may also come as a surprise due to the number of people who go undiagnosed. According to the Cleveland Clinic Sleep Disorders Center, only 1 in 5 people get a diagnosis. The remaining 80 percent are unaware of their condition.
It’s not just a good night’s sleep you are missing out on; sleep apnea can put your overall health at risk, too. The exact connection between sleep apnea and heart disease, for example is unclear, but data has confirmed time and time again that people with obstructive sleep apnea are much more likely to have or develop heart disease and cardiovascular issues in the future.
Part of this is believed to be rooted in the higher rates of hypertension that occurs in sleep apnea patients. People who are not breathing efficiently are also not getting enough oxygen into their blood stream, which results in higher blood pressure. People who have high blood pressure tend to have co-existing cardiovascular risks and conditions, including higher rates of stroke, heart attack, congestive heart failure, and cardiac arrhythmia.
Sleep apnea causes a broad range of symptoms that can be difficult for the average person to detect. While only a medical professional can diagnose the disease, there are some signs that you might suffer with the condition:
These symptoms are even more likely to be caused by obstructive sleep apnea if you are overweight or obese, or if your bed partner has noticed nighttime snoring or sporadic episodes of breathing cessation. Keep in mind that it is unlikely that you would notice your own snoring or difficulty breathing while sleeping, since such episodes rarely wake the sleeper.
If you think you may have sleep apnea, don’t let another day go by without working toward a diagnosis. Contact our office to schedule a consultation and find out what can be done to treat obstructive sleep apnea and prevent the complications associated with it.
Disclaimer: Obviously, every patient’s case is different, and needs to be properly diagnosed and treated by a healthcare professional. Please see your healthcare professional or contact us for an appointment.
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