Healthy Living

Is Sleep Apnea Deadly?

Is Sleep Apnea Deadly?

Often people don't realize how dangerous sleep apnea can be. Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that can have severe consequences. There have been several studies that prove patients with a severe form of the sleep disorder can be at risk of premature death if left untreated. As it turns out, untreated sleep apnea can triple the chances of a patient dying prematurely.

Approximately 6% of adults in the United States suffer from some form of moderate to severe sleep apnea. 17% of the population have mild sleep apnea.

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

The results of a recent showed that almost 20% of people suffering from severe sleep apnea died during the 18 year period of testing while only 4% of the people without sleep apnea died during the follow-up period.

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

Among the most common condition 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 having heart-related disease when suffering from sleep apnea is five times higher, especially for those patients going through untreated severe sleep apnea.

When patients that used CPAP machine on a regular basis 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, 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 into groups depending on the severity of their condition, which was defined by the number of breathing pauses they had during their sleep.