Healthy Living

How Deadly Is Sleep Apnea?

How Deadly Is Sleep Apnea?

Many do not take sleep apnea as seriously as it should be. But, sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that has severe consequences that patients should be aware of. There have been several studies done to prove that patients with a severe form of the sleep disorder can be at risk of having a premature death for those who are not treating it. As it turns out, untreated sleep apnea may triple the chances of a patient dying prematurely, and not only from what it directly causes, but also because of other risk factors.

This is important to keep in mind, especially when there is about 6% of adults in the U.S suffer from some form of sleep apnea, whether it be moderate or severe. In addition, at least 17% of these people have a less severe form of sleep apnea.

People with sleep apnea are prone to die earlier, study shows

A study done by researchers specialized in the area followed the behavior of more than 1,500 adults for a period of time of around 18 years. The results showed that almost 20% of those people suffering from severe sleep apnea died during the period of the test while only 4% of the people without sleep apnea died during the follow-up period.

During the follow-up period which, 80 of those 1,500 people died, and at least 62 of those people suffered from sleep apnea.

The study also revealed that this risk of suffering a premature death due to sleep apnea could be reduced by treating sleep apnea properly. One of the best options to treat sleep apnea is by using a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP), which would keep airways open while a patient is sleeping, preventing them from having any pause in their breathing.

Among the most common of conditions triggering a premature death were heart-related incidents. At least 6 patients out of every 10 who died during the follow-up period had deaths related to heart failure. The risk of suffering from heart-related diseases when suffering from sleep apnea is five times higher, especially for those patients going through untreated severe sleep apnea.

Also, once patients use a CPAP machine on a regular basis to treat their sleep apnea problem were excluded, the risk of death for people with severe sleep apnea increased to almost 4 times more than people who were not suffering from the condition. Most experts were quite surprised at the finding out the increase once they excluded people those who were following treatment. 

In another test where researchers evaluated a random sample of more than 1,500 people as well, the results allowed for many different and unexpected findings. Those who were a part of the study were men and women between the ages of 30 and 60 years old.

During this study, the participants had to spend one night at a sleep laboratory where they were observed and screened for sleep apnea. Once the test was done, those diagnosed with sleep apnea were divided depending on the severity of their condition, which was defined by the number of breathing pauses they had during their sleep.