18 April What is Sleep Apnea? April 18, 2017By Pacific Sleep Disorders Center Sleep Apnea sleep disorders 0 This is the first in a series of blogs regarding sleep disorders including what they are how they affect people and various treatments. It is our intent to add content every month or so. I will first speak about obstructive sleep apnea because that is the most common disease that we deal with. It is caused by collapse of the back of the throat causing blockage of air transport into the lungs. It is caused primarily by genetic factors and increased body weight specifically neck circumference. Many people report that one or more their parents died in their 50s and 60s and were heavy snorers. It is very likely that they may have had obstructive sleep apnea and it has only been in the last 20-25 years that there has been substantial appreciation for OSA and its complications. The predominant symptoms associated with obstructive sleep apnea are excessive daytime sleepiness, snoring especially heavy snoring and witnessed apneas. About 60% of the population snores, 30% snore consistently, and in the last randomized study 24% of men and 9-12% of women were found to have sleep apnea. It is important to diagnose and treat because it can cause sleepiness which has been associated with automobile accidents. Also it causes and aggravates hypertension, diabetes mellitus, cardiac arrhythmias such as atrial fibrillation, and can lead to strokes and heart attacks. Recently it is also been found to lead to dementia in older age. Approximately 80% of people who have had strokes have sleep apnea either obstructive or central which is when the brain is not telling the person to breathe. Diabetics have a 70% probability of having OSA according to a recent study and 30-40% of people with high blood pressure. Therefore obstructive sleep apnea is a very common disease in our population affecting 15-20% of adults and has serious consequences for people’s health and survival. It can be easily treated in most cases and this treatment will be discussed in a future blog. Comments are closed.