- According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, obstructive sleep apnea may be key in the development of essential hypertension (high blood pressure). Nearly half of all people with high blood pressure have sleep apnea.
- High blood pressure is a major risk factor, especially if left untreated for having a heart attack or stroke.
- Sleep apnea causes people to stop breathing many times during the night, which prevents the blood from being fully oxygenated during sleep. Each time the person stops breathing, they wake up momentarily and start breathing again. This frequent waking prevents the person from getting deep, restorative sleep.
- As a result of poor sleep, daytime fatigue is a hallmark symptom of sleep apnea. This can become dangerous when the person is at work or driving and they begin to doze off. People with sleep apnea may also be more irritable, and may also experience more headaches (due to low oxygen).
- Acid reflux is also very prevalent in people with sleep apnea. Researchers are not sure whether sleep apnea causes the reflux, or if the reflux is causing sleep apnea.
- Acid reflux disease that is untreated can lead to esophageal cancer. Symptoms of acid reflux do not always correlate to the severity of the disease. People may have relatively severe esophageal erosion, but experience only mild symptoms.
What Can Be Done?
Talk to your physician about getting screened for sleep apnea. People who snore, have a large neck circumference, and those with high blood pressure and/or diabetes are at the greatest risk. If you or your spouse is diagnosed with sleep apnea or other sleep disorder, there are machines that can assist breathing throughout the night.
- Contact Wheelock Pharmacy's Respiratory Therapist Christina through email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 517-263-7175 if you have additional questions or concerns.