One in five Americans suffers from a life-threatening sleep disorder that causes breathing to stop, potentially cutting off oxygen supply to the brain.
Sleep apnea is a common sleep-related condition in which breathing stops and starts during the night, putting the body at risk of dangerously depriving it of vital oxygen.
Sufferers snore, choke and gasp 20 to 30 times every hour during the night and, as a result, wake up repeatedly and unknowingly, which means the body is not getting enough rest.
While some people may not even realize they have the condition, others are alerted by their partners, who tell them that they are gasping for air while they sleep. A test is also usually performed to diagnose sleep apnea, during which a person is connected to equipment that monitors breathing patterns and blood oxygen levels while they sleep.
When breathing stops for 10 seconds or more at a time, blood oxygen levels drop, increasing the risk of hypertension, stroke, and heart attacks in the future.
As part of treatment for sleep apnea, pPatients often have to wear a device called a continuous positive airway pressure machine, or CPAP machine, when they sleep.
Approximately 18 million Americans have been diagnosed with this condition, including President Joe Biden.
In June, the White House revealed that Biden, 80, had begun using a CPAP machine to treat his sleep apnea after visible indentations in his face that many speculated were caused by the machine.
Bleeding on President Joe Biden’s face in June prompted the White House to tell reporters that he had started using a CPAP machine.
CPAP masks come in various styles and sizes to accommodate different preferences and facial structures. The placement of the lines on President Biden’s face suggests that he is wearing a full face mask like the one shown above.
The machine provides a constant flow of pressurized air to your nose and mouth and keeps your airways open to optimize breathing while you sleep.
TO study published Tuesday in JAMA found that consistent use of a CPAP machine protects against cardiovascular disease in high-risk people, something that has been much debated.
He found that using the CPAP machine for more than four hours during sleep reduced the risk of having a stroke, heart attack or cardiac arrest.
While loud, interrupted snoring is a common symptom of this condition, not all people with sleep apnea snore. However, if snoring is accompanied by abrupt stops in breathing and attacks of choking or gasping during sleep, as well as excessive daytime sleepiness, difficulty concentrating, and high blood pressure, it may indicate obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
OSA is the most common type of sleep apnea, affecting about one in five American adults, although many cases go undiagnosed.
People with severe OSAwho wake up more than 30 times an hour and are at increased risk of dying from any cause, shortening their lives by up to a decade.
People with moderate OSA, who wake up 15 to 30 times an hour, are 72 percent more likely to die.
The increased risk of heart attacks and strokes for people with sleep apnea is the main driver of the increased risk of mortality.
Another type of sleep apnea is central sleep apnea, which occurs when the brain does not send the necessary signals to breathe.
In general, men are two to three times more likely to suffer from sleep apnea than women, although obesity and older age are the biggest risk factors.
The condition occurs when the muscles supporting the throat relax and the airways narrow and collapse, meaning air cannot enter or exit through the nose or mouth.
When this happens, breathing may stop for 10 seconds or more at a time until reflexes activate and speed up breathing, often without the person realizing that anything had happened, although they may notice a pattern of dryness in mouth and persistent fatigue when waking up. .
Trying to inhale against a collapsed airway ultimately denies the body crucial oxygen.
While normal blood oxygenation levels range between 90 and 95 percenta sleeper with apnea can see those levels plummet to the 80s and even 70s.
Oxygen saturation levels will normally return to normal once breathing resumes, but for a person with OSA who breathes erratically at all hours of the night, there may be lasting damage to health.
For example, frequent drops in blood oxygen concentrations have been shown to increase blood pressure, which increases rates of hypertension.
In fact, high blood pressure and sleep apnea go hand in hand. About 30 to 40 percent of people with sleep apnea have hypertension, and OSA can make high blood pressure worse.
People with OSA are also more likely to have heart attacks. He American Thoracic Society reports that people with untreated sleep apnea are twice as likely to develop a heart attack in the future as people without OSA.
Among all Americans admitted to the hospital for Coronary artery disease – a condition characterized by a buildup of cholesterol within the arteries that narrows blood vessels and blocks the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the heart – 70 percent have been found to have OSA.
Older people are more likely to suffer from sleep apnea. The older a person is, the more severe the effects of sleep apnea may be, as research indicates that the condition dramatically increases the risks associated with age-related cardiovascular changes, such as an increased risk of heart attack.