Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that affects many Americans from all walks of life. Although it is more prevalent among certain segments of the population (men, smokers, overweight individuals, and those of Hispanic or African American descent tend to be more susceptible to the disorder), anyone can suffer from sleep apnea. In contrast to many other sleep disorders, which may cause insomnia or difficulty staying asleep, sleep apnea causes repeated waking or changes in sleep due to episodes of breathing cessation. People with obstructive sleep apnea (the most common form) experience interruptions in breathing due to blockages of the airway, whereas people with central sleep apnea (a rarer form of the condition) stop breathing temporarily because of signaling errors in areas of the brain that control breathing.
Although many people think of snoring as sleep apnea’s characteristic symptom, it can actually have much more serious consequences. Snoring is an annoyance – especially for bed partners of sleep apnea sufferers – but it is by no means the only, or the most serious, outcome of the disorder. In fact, although they are often associated, not everyone with sleep apnea will experience snoring. A range of potentially serious health problems can result from untreated sleep apnea, however, including an increased risk of stroke.
People with sleep apnea are more likely to suffer from high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease, which in turn elevates the risk of stroke. Repeated interruptions in sleep during the night can trigger a nervous system response that causes blood pressure to soar. People of all ages who have sleep apnea are at an increased risk for stroke. However, in older adults, for whom the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke is already higher, the association between untreated sleep apnea and stroke is of particular concern. Taking steps to detect sleep apnea early, and to begin treatment as soon as possible, is essential in mediating the risk of stroke and other health problems associated with the condition.
Edison Home Health Care is happy to advise and assist you or any loved one who seek appropriate care for sleeping problems. Give us a call at 888-311-1142, or fill out a contact form and we will respond shortly.