More than 18 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea, a disorder that causes periodic breathing disruptions while a person is asleep. The most common type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea, which results from blocked upper airways. While sleep apnea may not seem like a major health problem, it can have serious consequences if it is left untreated. Here is an overview of some of the potential complications of sleep apnea.
Heart disease. When you have sleep apnea, you repeatedly stop breathing throughout the night. This not only keeps you from getting adequate sleep, but can also reduce the amount of oxygen your body is getting. For these reasons, having untreated sleep apnea can significantly raise your risk of heart disease and heart attacks, as well as heart conditions such as atrial fibrillation.
Weight gain. Being overweight makes a person more likely to develop sleep apnea, in part because it leads to the accumulation of fatty tissues in your neck that can make it harder for you to breathe. Having obstructive sleep apnea also makes it more difficult to lose weight. Sleep apnea can deprive you of the energy you need to exercise and can slow down your metabolism.
High blood pressure. When you repeatedly wake up at night, your body reacts by working harder to get oxygen to your heart, driving your blood pressure up. Even after you wake up in the morning, your blood pressure continues to stay high throughout the day. Having low levels of oxygen in your body can also exacerbate the problem.
If you suspect that you may be suffering from a sleep disorder, contact the team at Largo Medical Center. We provide a variety of medical services to the Largo community, including pulmonary rehabilitation, cancer care, and stroke treatment. If you would like to learn more about our hospital, call us today at (727) 470-6826.