Sleep apnea could increase sudden death, study finds

Sleep apnea could increase sudden death, study finds

Snoring is ubiquitous. It’s in cartoons, mattress commercials, and, let’s face it — probably your family. But heavy snoring accompanied by mouth breathing can also a common symptom of obstructive sleep apnea, which is the most common sleep-related breathing disorder. And now, new research indicates it could also increase your chances of sudden death.

A meta-analysis from researchers at Penn State indicated that individuals with obstructive sleep apnea were approximately twice as likely to experience sudden death than those who did not have the sleep condition.

Although there are many different types of sleep apnea, obstructive sleep apnea is one of the most common. It occurs when the throat muscles intermittently relax and block an individual’s airways while they are sleeping.

Researchers also determined that obstructive sleep apnea caused a nearly twofold risk of cardiovascular death — a hazard that also increased with age.

Sleep apnea leads to sporadic oxygen absorption, which can trigger the central nervous system to overcorrect and try to increase air intake. This can result in a domino effect on someone’s systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Each time the throat is closed off, it can cause stress and break up sleeping patterns, researchers determined.

This oxidative stress can also contribute to an imbalance of antioxidants in the body, damaging cells and speeding up the aging process, the study found. Over time, this can cause several health problems.

According to the researchers, future studies will explore how physicians can best tailor obstructive sleep apnea treatment to the individual.


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