If you keep up with Entertainment news, then you’ve heard that Carrie Fisher’s death was said to be linked to Sleep Apnea. Of course, it wasn’t due to just one cause, but it was a major contributor.
Sleep apnea is a surprisingly common disorder in which you have one or more pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while you sleep.
If left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to an increase in high blood pressure, the risk of a heart attack, stroke, arrhythmias and may even lead to diabetes. It increases the risk of death by a factor of 3 by some estimates.
The problem is, it often goes undiagnosed, and it cannot be diagnosed by a regular doctor’s visit. Mostly you are alerted by a family member or a partner that notices and informs you of your breathing difficulty. But to be accurately diagnosed one must spend the night in a lab, hooked up to monitors. The inconvenience and cost may be an issue, but it’s always better to be certain.
One study estimated that 25% of adults between 30 and 70 have the condition. It has also been shown to be a major contributor to daytime sleepiness.
Although Sleep Apnea has been diagnosed in men at a higher rate than in women, it is unclear that the condition affects men more. One reason may be due to the condition going undiagnosed, especially after menopause, this is a period where the risk of the condition increases.
When your breathing pauses, (and these pauses can last from a few seconds to as long as a few minutes and can occur 30 times or more each hour). You are taken out of deep sleep and move into light sleep. Resulting in poor quality of sleep.
Sleep apnea is a chronic condition, is not easily treated and requires long-term management. You may have to make lifestyle changes, wear a mouthpiece or have surgery performed.
The most common type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea, where the airway is collapsed or becomes blocked during sleep, resulting in shallow breathing or snoring. This kind of condition is usually more common in people who are overweight.
Another is Central Sleep Apnea. This happens when the area of your brain that controls breathing doesn’t send the correct signals, and you stop breathing for periods.
Speak to your spouse or family member if they notice your snores, snorts, and gasps. It may just save your life.