Obstructive Sleep Apnoea Increases Risk of Sudden Cardiac Death

In a recently published study, the sleeping habits of 10,701 people were studied for 5.3 years to see if there were any incidences of sudden cardiac deaths. Most of the over millions people who suffer from this disorder are undiagnosed.

During the course of the study, 142 participants died of sudden cardiac death. Most of these participants were aged 60 years and above, and had 20 or more apnoea episodes per hour of sleep. They also had oxygen saturation below 78 per cent during sleep.

Researchers of the study found that the risk of sudden death increases by double for people with sleep apnoea.

The authors of the study released a press report wherein they stated that when people breath properly during their sleep; their oxygen saturation level is 100 per cent. If due to improper breathing while sleeping, this oxygen saturation level goes below 78 per cent, the risk of sudden cardiac death increases significantly. They also revealed that people with sleep apnoea usually die from sudden cardiac arrests between midnight and six-o-clock in the morning while people without sleep apnoea mostly die of sudden cardiac arrests between six-o-clock in the morning and noon.

Sleep apnoea has also been linked with other cardiovascular conditions like high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes, and atrial fibrillation. In its most severe form it can be treated by losing weight, implementing sleep posture changes and using devices that deliver air pressure through a mask placed over the nose while a person sleeps.

Latterly, due to the severe dislike of these breathing masks and machines, many specialists have been recommending the more readily acceptable oral mouthpiece as a useful solution – they are easier to use, instant, and highly affordable. The recommendation though is for the custom version as opposed to the off the shelf version.

Sleep apnoea is a sleeping disorder that can affect anyone. Recently it has received much attention. Nonetheless many people who have sleep apnoea have yet to have the “who me” moment. The reason the moment is so elusive for so many is that they don’t have a strong feeling that they have any problems sleeping. In some ways it’s like high blood pressure. You can have a serious problem, but be completely unaware of it until you have your blood pressure checked.

Who are most often affected by sleep apnoea?

People with sleep apnoea are most likely to be: men, overweight, over 60 years, those who consume alcohol or take sleep medicines, smoke, or have chronic rhinitis. Of course having combinations just makes it more likely.

Sleep apnoea is a sleeping disorder that can affect anyone. Recently it has received much attention. Nonetheless many people who have sleep apnoea have yet to have the “who me” moment. The reason the moment is so elusive for so many is that they don’t have a strong feeling that they have any problems sleeping. In some ways it’s like high blood pressure. You can have a serious problem, but be completely unaware of it until you have your blood pressure checked. By the way, when WAS the last time you checked your blood pressure?

In most cases, except for the tell-tale symptoms, which I will mention momentarily, the only way you might know you have sleep apnoea is if someone has complained that you snore like a Saturn 5. In many cases the person sleeps through the apnoea event without waking up or sensing that anything is out of the ordinary.

How can I tell if I have sleep apnoea?

There are two types of sleep apnoea, obstructive and central but the most common by far is obstructive.

The most common symptom is daytime sleepiness. As humans, we have very complex sleep cycles, and these cycles must run uninterrupted for you to be fully rested and refreshed. Sleep apnoea interrupts these cycles everywhere from 5 to 30 times per hour, which can turn 7 hours of sleep into just 1 or 2 hours of effective sleep, and this makes you feel tired and sleepy while you’re awake.

The next most likely symptom, aside from someone telling you that you snore horribly, is waking up with a dry mouth or slightly sore throat. This symptom indicates you were breathing through your mouth most of the night.

What causes obstructive sleep apnoea?

Sleep apnoea occurs most often when a person is sleeping on their back. It occurs because when you are in that position, and as the muscles of the throat relax, the passageway for airflow begins to collapse. The diaphragm continues to contract but there is no airflow into the lungs. During exhalation what air is in the lungs is exhaled normally and during the next inhalation the collapse happens again. Eventually, a shortage of oxygen causes you to move slightly or turn your head, the muscle tone of the throat returns briefly and you breathe normally for several breaths. Then it happens all over again.

Through slight adjustment of your jaw, the mouthpiece mentioned previously helps to keep your airways open during sleep and prevents the apnoea.

Is it really a big deal?

YES Number 1

A study published on June 11, 2013, in the Journal of American College of Cardiology, found that in people (mean age = 53 years) with severe sleep apnoea, i.e. occurring more than 20 times per hour, there was a 60% increase in the risk of sudden cardiac death during sleep. In people with more than 20 episodes per hour, there was an 81% increase in risk, compared to those without apnoea.

YES Number 2

In a presentation given at the May, 2013 American Thoracic Society 2013 International Conference, a link was established between sleep apnoea and Alzheimer’s disease. It was noted that Alzheimer’s disease improved once treatment for sleep apnoea began and it may be that treatment for sleep apnoea might evolve into a form of treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.

YES Number 3

Sleep apnoea has also been associated with increased risk for hypertension, diabetes, and liver dysfunction.
So spread the word. Sleep apnoea, although it is destructive to your health, should not be neglected because it is very easily treatable.

By John Redfern