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Can You Die From Sleep Apnea

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Why Is Sleep Apnea So Dangerous

The link between sleep apnea and sudden cardiac arrest comes down to abnormal heart rhythm. Disordered breathing triggers a flight or fight response. Reena Mehra, a sleep expert and researcher in studies that verify this connection, notes that:

“Sleep apnea may lower oxygen levels, activate the fight-or-flight response and change pressure in the chest when the upper airway closes, stressing the heart mechanically.” Over time, this constant, nightly stress can prove too much for the heart, causing sudden heart failure and death.

Dr. Mehra also notes that:

“…. our group has shown that people with severe obstructive sleep apnea have a two-to-fourfold greater risk of abnormal heart rhythms than people without sleep apnea.”

What The Research Shows

“Early identification and treatment of sleep apnea are key,” he says. “Several studies now link severe obstructive sleep apnea to higher mortality — even after accounting for risk factors such as obesity.”

In a five-year study of nearly 11,000 people, those with obstructive sleep apnea had a higher risk of sudden cardiac death. At greatest risk were those aged 60 and older with moderate to severe apnea .

When their oxygen saturation levels dipped below 78% — preventing air from flowing into the lungs — their risk increased by 80%.

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“In addition, our  has shown that people with severe obstructive sleep apnea have a two-to-fourfold greater risk of abnormal heart rhythms than people without sleep apnea,” he says.

Other researchers have found that patients with obstructive sleep apnea are more than 2.5 times as likely to experience sudden cardiac death between 12 a.m. and 6 a.m. as those without obstructive apnea.

Carrie Fisher’s Death: How Dangerous Is Sleep Apnea

Carrie Fisher’s death was caused in part by sleep apnea, a common disorder that affects roughly 22 million Americans.

Carrie Fisher’s untimely death was caused in part by sleep apnea, a common disorder that affects roughly 22 million Americans — with the vast majority of cases going undiagnosed.

On Friday, the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office the late actress’s December death was caused by the sleep condition, in addition to other undetermined factors.

The coroner also mentioned Fisher’s atherosclerotic heart disease and “drug use,” but no specifics were given. According to the Associated Press, the report stated Fisher had taken multiple drugs prior to her death. “The manner of death has been ruled undetermined,” the report concluded.

Sleep apnea is a condition that causes breathing disruptions during sleep that can last anywhere from seconds to minutes, according to the U.S. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Apnea is a Greek word meaning “want of breath.”

According to American Sleep Apnea Association, the vast majority of cases go undiagnosed, as sufferers do not experience symptoms when they are awake. Sleep apnea is also undetectable on blood tests. Most often, it is the sufferer’s sleeping partner who first detects symptoms, such as snoring or choking noises that occurs after the patient resumes breathing.

Changes In Pressure Within The Chest

When a person with obstructive sleep apnea attempts to breathe, they inhale against a narrowed or closed upper airway. These unsuccessful, forced inhalations can cause substantial changes in pressure within the chest cavity. Over time, these repetitive changes in intrathoracic pressure can damage the heart. Intrathoracic pressure changes can lead to atrial fibrillation , problems with blood flow to the heart, and even heart failure.

Can Sleep Apnea Kill You

Can you die from sleep apnea?

Sanja Jelic, MD

Sanja Jelic, MD is board-certified in pulmonary disease, sleep medicine, critical care medicine, and internal medicine. She is an assistant professor and attending physician at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York, NY.

If you happen to be a firsthand witness, it can be a little scary to realize someone has stopped breathing during sleep. While several things can make your breathing stop while you’re asleep, a common cause is sleep apnea. People often ask, “Can sleep apnea kill you?” The answer is that it can have numerous short-term and long-term health consequences and yes, some of them can be life-threatening.

Why Sleep Health Is A Big Part Of Women’s Health

Sleep apnea symptomsSleep

They measured sleep apnea severity based on the apnea-hypopnea index — which is the number of pauses in breathing per hour of sleep — during both REM and non-REM sleep and found that twice as many men as women had a top AHI score of 15 during non-REM sleep. But during the REM phase of sleep, the same number of men and women had a high AHI score. This was important, according to the researchers, because this is the number that doctors believe is the best predictor of a person’s risk for developing hypertension and cardiovascular disease.

Serious Consequences Of Sleep Apnea

While these symptoms can potentially affect a person’s quality of life, they can also have even more serious consequences.

Researchers at Penn State performed a systematic review of the literature and identified 22 studies focusing on obstructive sleep apnea, cardiac death, and sudden death. The team analyzed the combined data of these studies by .

The quantitative analysis included a combined total of over 42,000 individuals across the world. The mean age of participants was 62 years old, and 64% were men.

The meta-analysis showed that individuals with obstructive sleep apnea were approximatelytwice as likely to experience sudden death than those who did not have the sleep condition. The study also identified that obstructive sleep apnea resulted in a nearly twofold risk of cardiovascular death that increased with age.

According to Dr. John S. Oh, assistant professor in the Department of Surgery at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and one of the study authors, many patients do not realize the seriousness of an apnea diagnosis.

“Obstructive sleep apnea is a common condition that can have fatal consequences,” stresses Dr. Oh.

What We Can Learn From Carrie Fishers Death

“I know my Mom, she’d want her death to encourage people to be open about their struggles.” —Carrie Fisher’s daughter, Billie Lourd

Carrie Fisher’s death may be said to be the result of a perfect storm of factors orbiting the central problem of undiagnosed and/or untreated sleep apnea. The ASAA is grateful to the Los Angeles County coroner’s office for stating the chief cause of death as sleep apnea. This effort gets to the heart of an ongoing need to discuss this dangerous, potentially lethal medical condition publicly.

It’s also likely Carrie Fisher herself—such an advocate for overcoming the stigma of mental health—would also advocate to remove the stigma surrounding snoring. Snoring is a major indicator for undiagnosed sleep apnea that should not go unnoticed by loved ones and family practitioners…and yet it does.

Fisher’s daughter, Billie Lourd, said in the wake of last week’s coroner’s report release, “I know my Mom, she’d want her death to encourage people to be open about their struggles.”

If you or a loved one you know snores loudly and frequently, has inexplicable and persistent high blood pressure, experiences gasping or choking at night while asleep, suffers from long-term daytime fatigue, or awakens with a dry mouth, raw throat or headache, please don’t discount the possibility you might have sleep apnea. Simple home testing can help rule the condition in and there are multiple approaches for treating this chronic medical problem.


Can Treating Sleep Apnea Extend Your Life

Sleep apnea contributes to the development and symptoms of many distressing health problems. Thankfully, it’s possible to live comfortably and correct many of those issues with the guidance of your doctor and treatment for OSA. 

Living without symptoms such as daytime sleepiness, headaches, and irritability can help you find the energy to eat healthier, exercise during the day, and perform better at work. Treating sleep apnea can also provide immediate relief for your sleep-related symptoms and give you the strength you need to face related disorders. 

Plus, breathing consistently throughout the night improves your blood flow, reducing your risk of high blood pressure, stroke, and heart disease. Those disorders have high death rates, so it’s vital to reduce your risk however you can. 

Causes Of Breathing Stopping During Sleep

Sleep-related breathing disturbances are fairly common. The most familiar one to most people is . The characteristic sound is caused by vibration in the tissues of your upper airway while you breathe.

It is also possible for you to completely stop breathing for a while. These breathing pauses are called sleep apnea, from the Greek for “no breath.” By definition, apnea events last at least 10 seconds, but they can stretch on for several minutes.

The most common cause of apnea is the sleep disorder known as obstructive sleep apnea . OSA occurs when the tissues of the upper airway—the tongue, soft palate, and uvula—collapse into the throat and block the normal airflow.

Your body may still make an effort to breathe, with the chest and abdomen moving, but the air can’t get past the obstruction. As a result, airflow through your nose and mouth is reduced or cut off during these periods.

Other potential causes of disturbed breathing during sleep are less common. They include:

Can Sleep Apnea Kill You Here Are The Results From A Recent Study

Sleep Advisor Disclaimer – Nothing on this website is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment… Read more here

Have you ever heard of sleep apnea? This disease is quite common, even though only one in four people who suffer from it are actually diagnosed. It affects men and women of all ages, but it’s mostly common among middle-aged men. According to the  Sleep Apnea Trust, this disease affects one in every 25 middle-aged men – and even though it doesn’t sound like something you should worry about, it is actually quite a serious problem.

This disorder also causes daytime drowsiness, which can seriously affect both your work and your social life, as well as your ability to drive safely.

So, what is sleep apnea ? It is a disorder where the throat closes or narrows while one is sleeping, repeatedly interrupting one’s breathing. This leads to a fall in oxygen levels in the blood, causing the brain to suddenly wake you up. This though this happens hundreds of times during the night, you are not aware of it. However, you end up not sleeping peacefully and it might cause you to feel tired the next day.

More than twenty-eight million of residents in the United States have this disorder, and 80% of them aren’t even aware of it. About 38,000 of them die in their sleep every year, as the sleep-disordered breathing exacerbates a certain circulatory problem, which causes a stroke or fatal heart attack.

Treatments For Sleep Apnea

At North Texas Sleep Center, we provide effective treatments for mild to severe sleep apnea, helping you get the rest you need at night. Our treatments help your airway stay clear, so you’ll fall fully asleep. Our treatments for sleep apnea include:

  • Continuous Positive Airway Pressure Machine– The most common sleep apnea treatment, CPAP machines create pressurized airflow through your lungs. That helps your airway stay clear of any excess tissue in your throat, so you’ll breathe clearly. 
  • Oral Appliance Therapy– Oral appliance therapy is a gentle, subtle method of treating sleep apnea that allows you to sleep comfortably in any position. This option is the most portable device for treating sleep apnea. 
  • Surgery – Dr. Lauck is experienced in oral surgery to prevent sleep apnea. In this surgery, she’ll remove excess tissue from around the throat and widen the airway. This option works best for people who experience severe, chronic sleep apnea. 

Increased Risk Of Deadly Accidents

Can You Die from Sleep Apnea? It is More Than a Simple ...

 show that there is an increased risk of deadly motor vehicle and working accidents associated with sleep apnea. Even though these accidents are usually anecdotally reported, the past few decades we’ve seen clear evidence that sleep apnea affects people’s poor performance, attention, and reaction time, which in some cases led to a deadly outcome.

The aforementioned studies have also shown the accident rate in sleep apnea-related cases; there are 13 sleep-apnea related deaths per million km in cases of untreated patients.

The factors that determine the accident rate in sleep apnea-related cases usually relate to sleepiness, alcohol consumption, poor judge driving performance, and in some cases, heart-related issues.

Sleep apnea causes excessive daytime sleepiness, fatigue, attention and concentration issues, frequent headaches, and poor performance. All of these sleep apnea effects appear during the day, when we’re more likely to work, drive, operate heavy machinery, etc. Other risk factors contribute to sleep apnea having such effects on our ability to function during the day, for example;

  • Driving during mid-afternoon or night hours,
  • Driving during the day when you’re sleep-deprived,
  • Driving on highways or major roads,
  • Being of male sex ,
  • Consumption of drugs and alcohol,
  • Shift work,

Can Sleep Apnea Be Fatal Could I Choke To Death In My Sleep

If you’re reading this blog, there are probably many questions you are thinking about; one might be “could OSA be fatal?” People who are newly diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnoea should be asking this question.

Here’s the truth: yes, you can indeed choke to death in your sleep!

Choking is a part of the very serious condition of obstructive sleep apnoea; it literally means a person has stopped breathing during sleep.

One study found that people with severe sleep apnoea were up to three times more likely to die prematurely, and that risk increases if the sleep disorder is not treated.

Another question might be “does OSA affect my life expectancy?”

Again, the truth is yes. Untreated Obstructive sleep apnoea can significantly reduce your life span. OSA also has associations with problems like heart failure, type 2 diabetes and strokes.

Sleep Deprivation And Heart Disease

Insufficient or fragmented sleep is common in patients with sleep apnea, and regularly missing sleep can negatively affect heart health. One of the many important roles of sleep is to allow the body to rest and recuperate. Heart rate and blood pressure drop during sleep as breathing becomes stable and regular.

Not getting enough sleep as a result of conditions like OSA means not giving the heart and cardiovascular system this important recovery time. Chronic sleep deprivation has been linked to increased risk for hypertension, heart disease, heart attacks, and stroke.

Diagnosing The Sleep Apnea

There are two main ways to diagnose this serious disorder – after observation at the sleep clinic, or at home by wearing a special testing device while sleeping.

  • Seeing Your Doctor

The next step would be an observation at the sleep center, where they’ll calculate your and measure down the circumference of your neck .

After that, the professionals at the sleep clinic will need to observe your sleep, and you’ll either have to spend the night there or be given some equipment to take home with you for monitoring. You will, of course, have to bring it back for analysis.

  • Testing at Home

Once the observation process and analysis are over, the specialists will determine the severity of your sleep apnea , and prescribe the proper treatment.

What Is Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea is a disorder that causes your airway to become blocked during sleep, causing your brain to wake up due to the lack of oxygen. This occurs when your throat muscles relax and cause your tongue to fall back into the airway.

Because of these frequent disturbances, people who suffer from sleep apnea don’t go through the proper sleep cycles. Some patients don’t even remember waking up during the night. 

Symptoms Of Sleep Apnea

Common signs and symptoms of sleep apnea include:

  • Snoring, choking, or coughing at night
  • Frequent nighttime urination
  • Persistent dry mouth or sore throat
  • Difficult falling asleep or waking up
  • Daytime exhaustion
  • Mood swings or irritability

OSA can also affect those around you. Your partner and family might even notice that you’re having a hard time sleeping before you do. Our patients often report their partner noticing lapses in breathing at night. 

If You Suspect Sleep Apnea

Think you may have sleep apnea? It’s important to have it checked. Sleep apnea can lead to other heart health problems and impaired performance on the job or at school. Your doctor may suggest a sleep evaluation.

“Not only will getting treated for sleep apnea reduce your risk of a dangerous cardiac event,” says Dr. Wilkoff. “It will make you sleep better, and feel better, all around.”

Timely Diagnosis And Treatment

In an interview with Medical News Today, Dr. Ryan Soose, director of the UPMC Sleep Division, said: “We’ve known for a long time that untreated sleep apnea patients are more likely to develop high blood pressure, heart disease, and a number of other health conditions. But the risk of sudden death reported in this study is eye-opening and makes a timely diagnosis and treatment even more pressing.”

The effects of the nervous system on the human sleep cycle may explain the association between sleep apnea and the increased rate of sudden death.

Because of the intermittent lack of oxygen that people with sleep apnea experience, the central nervous system may be over-aroused to increase airflow. In turn, this can cause increases in both the systolic and diastolic blood pressure of an individual.

In addition, someone with sleep apnea will experience oxidative stress , which can contribute to an imbalance of antioxidants in the body. This imbalance can damage cells and speed up the aging process, causing numerous health problems over time.

In a podcast, Dale Coller, DO, from Holland Hospital Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine in Michigan, OH, has commented on the serious stressors resulting from obstructive sleep apnea.

“Every time closes off, it’s very similar to if someone is being choked,” Coller explains. “This can happen hundreds of times in one night, causing the person stress and fragmentation of their sleep.”

Dr. Soose agreed:

Related Questions Answered On Yanswers

Can You Die From Sleep Apnea?

How many people have actually died from sleep apnea ?
Q: What are the chances of a person with sleep apnea dying due to lack of oxygen?
A: Breathing disorders that occur during sleep include obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea. Less severe forms include snoring and upper airway resistance syndrome. The term sleep-disordered breathing is used to encompass all such disorders. Please see the web pages for more details on Sleep apnea.
how can you die from sleep apnea?
Q: just curious
A: Usually your body can only go for so long without breathing. That’s why the person with sleep apnea starts breathing again because the hypoxemia wakes up the brain and heart. Most forms of sleep apnea aren’t fatal. But there are some, usually anatomical abnormalities that can be if not treated by a doctor. It’s always best to get a heavy snorer a sleep apnea test. Quick, easy and painless.

Obstructive Apnea And Stroke

Stroke is the second world leading cause of death, and is also the next major factor in sleep apnea death. In a major clinical study 697 patients with OSA were tested for a 3 year period in Yale Center for Sleep Medicine.

At the end of the study, the results showed 22 reported strokes and 50 deaths in the group with obstructive apnea. However, during these 3 years of testing, many of the patients received effective treatment , otherwise the number of strokes could be higher.

Health Problems Can Disappear with CPAP

Many years ago, people with sleep apnea had a choice between loud snoring, excessive drowsiness, tracheostomy and death. In our days, CPAP is not only a life saver, but it can also reduce your health problems, including heart issues, to minimum. Read the study here.

Whats The Risk Of Death From Sleep Apnea

Researchers have found that severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea has the potential to raise your risk of dying early by as much as 46%. If you leave this condition untreated, you have a higher risk of a heart attack. Sleep Apnea also increases your risk of having a stroke.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, Sleep Apnea has the potential to result in sudden death due to abnormal heart rhythms. The condition may lower your oxygen levels during sleep, activate your fight-or-flight response, and then change the pressure in your chest when your upper airway closes, which can stress your heart.

Sleep Apnea May Be Deadly

Risk of Premature Death 3 Times Higher in People With Undiagnosed Sleep Apnea

Jennifer Warner

Aug. 1, 2008 — Suffering from sleep apnea may do more than just spoil a good night’s . A new study shows that people with severe sleep apnea may be up to three times more likely to die prematurely, and that risk increases if the sleep disorder is left untreated.

Sleep apnea is a common sleeping disorder that causes frequent pauses in breathing during and is often accompanied by . About 6% of adults in the U.S. suffer from moderate to severe forms of the condition, and 17% have less severe forms.

In the study, researchers followed more than 1,500 adults for 18 years who had been screened for sleep apnea at the start of the study. The results showed that about 19% of those with severe sleep apnea died during the follow-up period compared with only 4% of those without sleep apnea.

Researchers found the risk of premature death increased as the severity of sleep apnea increased, but findings suggested protection from risk of death with proper treatment of sleep apnea, such as the use of continuous positive airway pressure to keep airways open during sleep and prevent pauses in breathing.

When those who used regularly to treat their sleep apnea were excluded from the analysis, the risk of death was 3.8 times greater for those with for untreated sleep apnea.

Favorite Sleep Apnea Podcast

Breathe Better, Sleep Better, Live Better

Episodes of this podcast cover topics ranging from why sleep apnea treatments don’t work for some people, to sleep apnea myths, to how our diets affect sleep disorders. The podcast’s producer and creator is Steven Y. Park, MD, an assistant professor in the department of otorhinolaryngology and head and neck surgery at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, New York. Dr. Park has written books on sleep and sleep disorders, and his podcast and work focuses on helping people sleep better and address potential sleep disorders.

Untreated Sleep Apnea And Heart Attacks

Multiple studies have shown a link between Sleep Apnea and sudden cardiac death. One five-year  found that OSA raised the risk of sudden cardiac death, particularly when oxygen saturation levels fell below 78%. Researchers also found that individuals with Obstructive Sleep Apnea have more than 2.5 times the risk of experiencing sudden cardiac death between the hours of 12 a.m. and 6 a.m. compared to those without the condition.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea Raises Risk Of Sudden Cardiac Death Mayo Clinic Finds

ROCHESTER, Minn. — People who have obstructive sleep apnea — when a person stops breathing for periods during sleep — have a greater risk of sudden cardiac death, according to a study published online today in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. An estimated 12 million American adults have obstructive sleep apnea, and many of them are undiagnosed, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute .

VIDEO ALERT: Audio and video resources of Dr. Virend Somers are available on the Mayo Clinic News Network.

In the study, funded by the NHLBI, 10,701 people who participated in sleep studies were followed for an average of 5.3 years for incidence of sudden cardiac death. In that time, 142 patients died of sudden cardiac death. The most common predictors were an age of 60 or older, 20 or more apnea episodes per hour of sleep, and an oxygen saturation below 78 percent during sleep.

“What we found that is new with this study is that if you have sleep apnea, your risk of sudden death increases almost twofold, particularly if you stopped breathing more than 20 times per hour of sleep and if you had severe falls in oxygen saturation during sleep,” says senior author Virend Somers, M.D., Ph.D., a Mayo Clinic cardiologist.

The study was supported by grants HL65176 and NIH 1 UL1 RR024150 from the National Institutes of Health .

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