What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

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Obstructive Sleep Apnea is a serious condition. The airway closes many times during the night significantly reducing oxygen levels in the body disrupting sleep. In varying degrees, this can result in excessive daytime sleepiness, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, reflux, depression, heart attack, stroke, and death. Sleep apnea causes a significant drop of oxygen levels in the bloodstream. This raises blood pressure and causes heart rhythm disturbances.

According to findings of a Mayo Clinic study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, approximately 20 million Americans suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA.) They are more likely to die suddenly of cardiac causes between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. than during the other 16 hours of the day combined. Apoor Gami, M.D., lead author of the study, examined over a hundred death certificates of patients who died of cardiac arrest. More than half (54 %) of the OSA patients died between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., while only 24% of the 34 cardiac deaths among non-OSA patients occurred during that period.

Apneic episodes can last anywhere between 10 to 20 seconds each, ending with at least a partial awakening when the person can no longer breath. A person experiencing obstructive sleep apnea may have as many as 300 episodes per night.

If a person experiences 30 or more apnea episodes during a seven-hour sleep period, they may be suffering from Sleep Apnea.

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