Although the answer you want to hear is no, sadly, the answer to that question is yes. Untreated or undiagnosed sleep apnea can result in death. One shocking statistic is that untreated sleep apnea patients are actually twice more likely to die from any cause than those who are not suffering with sleep apnea. Some sleep apnea patients can take their disease for granted and it’s important that you don’t take it for granted – sleep apnea is a serious medical condition and it should be treated as such.
Causes of Death from Sleep Apnea
There are a number of causes of sleep apnea death, but the absolute number one cause is heart attacks. Research shows that whilst an obstructive sleep apnea sufferer is asleep, they are at the greatest risk of having a heart attack and not waking up. This is because during an apnoeic episode, there are large amounts of carbon dioxide in the blood and not enough oxygen. This causes the blood pressure to become elevated, the heart rhythm to go out of sync and the walls of the heart to become distressed. If all of these problems elevate, the result is a cardiac arrest that could end in death.
Sleep apnea can also cause a whole host of serious medical problems, including cardiovascular disease, hypertension, strokes and sleep deprivation. Statistics suggest that at least 15 people out of every 1,000 with sleep apnea die from a cause that is directly related to sleep apnea every year.
All of the medical problems listed above could be fatal, so if you’re suffering with one of those diseases as well as sleep apnea, it’s essential that you get treatment as soon as possible. Cardiovascular disease and hypertension are manageable with medication, and you can drastically reduce your risk of a stroke if you get treatment for the sleep apnea.
Sleep deprivation is thought to be one of the biggest causes of sleep apnea death each year. This is because sleep deprivation in itself causes a number of other problems, including loss of concentration, memory loss, slow reflexes and falling asleep. All of those things combined are to blame for the fact that 1,400 sleep apnea sufferers die per year whilst behind the wheel of a car.
How to Prevent Death from Sleep Apnea
The most important thing to do is to treat the sleep apnea. If you’re being treated with a CPAP mask and machine and you are not tolerating it very well, don’t just stop treatment. Speak to your doctor as soon as you can. They may be able to suggest a mask that you could swap to, or they may be able to swap you to BiPAP therapy. If your sleep apnea is moderate, you could also be treated with an oral appliance instead of a CPAP machine. These sorts of appliances are put into the mouth before you go to sleep and they put your jaw into a position that allows your airways to be open. There are also other treatment options, including a chin strap, body pillows and various positioning devices that put your body in a position that allows your airways to be open.
You should also reduce your weight if you are obese or morbidly obese as the weight, combined with the sleep apnea, could cause diabetes and obesity hypotension syndrome, as well as many other serious medical conditions.
>Once you begin and continue treatment for sleep apnea, your risk factor for various medical diseases goes down to almost that of the general population. If you suspect you may be suffering from sleep apnea or any other sleep disorder and you’re continually feeling tired, unrefreshed, irritable and if you’re a snorer, go to your doctor as soon as possible. The sooner you get a diagnosis, the sooner you can start treatment and the sooner you can put an end to your sleep apnea symptoms.