If you don’t sleep well at night, you may face numerous inconveniences. You may find it difficult to get through work, and you might be more irritable than usual. But if you have sleep apnea, your nighttime woes could be much more than a mere nuisance. In fact, your disorder could be endangering your life! Let’s talk about some of the life-threatening problems that untreated sleep apnea can contribute to.
When beloved actress Carrie Fisher passed away, most people assumed it was primarily because of substance abuse. While there is some truth to that, her official cause of death also involved sleep apnea. Her apnea may have contributed to the heart attack that occurred four days before she died. Incidents like that are not uncommon. In fact, sleep apnea increases the risk of heart failure by a whopping 140%, and it increases the risk of coronary artery disease by 30%.
Stroke kills roughly 150,000 people each year. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is strongly associated with hypertension (high blood pressure), which is considered a significant risk factor for stroke. Additionally, research has found that OSA is a predictor of bad outcomes after suffering a stroke. People who have it and survive a stroke are more likely to experience poor neurological and functional recovery.
A report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration claims that there are about 100,000 drowsy driving crashes every year, resulting in 800 fatalities. However, the real numbers may actually be much higher because police have no real way to determine whether a driver was drowsy at the time they crashed. Because sleep apnea interferes with the quality of your sleep, it can increase the risk that you will get behind the wheel while you are tired.
Treatment Could Save Your Life
The above information may sound a little scary, but there is no need to become too distressed. With treatment, you can drastically reduce your chances of suffering from life-threatening sleep apnea complications. Here is what you should do:
- If you believe you have sleep apnea but have not received an official diagnosis, have a sleep expert help you arrange a test.
- After you receive a diagnosis, learn about your treatment options. Many people find that a custom oral appliance from a dentist is both convenient and effective.
- Monitor your sleep. You should notice improvements in the quality of your sleep soon after you begin treatment. If you do not, ask your care provider if they can adjust your device or provide suggestions on how to make your treatment more effective.
Sleep apnea can be deadly — but it doesn’t have to be. Proper treatment could increase the quality of your life right now and possibly extend your life by many years.
Meet the Sleep Apnea Expert
Dr. Keith Hollinger is an experienced sleep dentist and a member of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. He has helped countless people find relief from OSA via oral appliance therapy. If you would like to learn how you could improve the quality of your sleep and possibly extend your life, contact our office at 860-430-5687.