Sleep apnea

This is a physiological problem causing the throat muscles become so relaxed during sleep that the passage of air is blocked. So sleep is interrupted hundreds of times in the sense that deep sleep and proper dreaming is interfered with. It sounds as if the person is struggling to breath, and so they are frequently woken and so suffere tiredness.

Sleep apnes can lead to high blood pressure and even heart problems

The condition can lead to high blood pressure and heart attacks. “The vast majority of people out there are undiagnosed and untreated,” said Dr Ian Wilcox, a cardiologist at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney. Dr Wilcox also works at the Centre for Respiratory Failure and Sleep Disorders at the hospital and specialises on the link that sleep disorders have on heart disease. The lack of sleep raises the level of carbon dioxide in the blood, which in the long term can lead to strokes, hypertension and decreased life expectancy.  The condition affects 5 per cent of middle-aged women and 10 per cent of middle-aged men. If your partner tells you there are signs of you struggling for breath, or you dream of struggling, it is advisable to be tested for this condition and have it treated.

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Normally during sleep the muscles which control the tongue and soft palate hold the airway open. As these muscles relax, the airway becomes narrower, which can cause snoring and breathing difficulties. In some cases, these muscles relax too much, which causes the airway to become completely blocked, preventing any airflow. Once the airway has closed and no breathing is occurring (apnea), the brain realizes that there is a lack of oxygen and alerts the body to wake up. Though the sufferer is often not aware of it, this cycle can occur several hundreds of times each night, severely disrupting sleep.

The Impact of Sleep Apnea on Health

Each time an apnea ends, there is a surge in heart rate and blood pressure. These changes, as well as drops in oxygen levels that result from sleep apnea, have been identified in the progression of high blood pressure, heart disease, congestive heart failure, transient ischemic attacks (TIAs), and stroke.

The condition can easily be treated with a gadget that creates a positive air pressure in the mouth.

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