Sleep apnea is a common disorder in which you have pauses in breathing (actually stop breathing) or shallow breaths while you sleep. Breathing pauses can last from a few seconds to minutes. They often occur 5 to 30 times or more an hour. Typically, normal breathing then starts again, sometimes with a loud snort or choking sound. The most common type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea. This most often means that the airway has collapsed or is blocked during sleep.
When I lecture about sleep apnea and heart disease I often ask people to take a deep breath and hold it for about 20 to 30 seconds (why not try it now)…
Okay after the 30 seconds let the breath out. That is how long many people with sleep apnea stop breathing while they sleep, often several times every hour.
Take a look at this short PSA on Sleep Apnea:
Untreated sleep apnea can:
- Increase the risk for high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes!
- Increase the risk for or worsen heart failure
- Lead to irregular heartbeats
- Increase the chance of having work-related or driving accidents
Common symptoms of sleep apnea include:
- Excessive daytime sleepiness/fatigue
- Loud snoring
- Observed episodes of breathing cessation during sleep
- Abrupt awakenings at night sometimes accompanied by shortness of breath
- Awakening with a dry mouth or sore throat
- Morning headaches
- Difficulty staying asleep (insomnia)
Sleep apnea can be treated once it is diagnosed. By treating your sleep apnea you can actually also protect your heart from future problems.
For more info on sleep apnea visit www.sleepapnea.org
For more info about risk factors for heart disease, stroke and diabetes visit www.heart-strong.com
We are nurses practitioners who have spent years taking care of people with heart disease and our mission now is to help people PREVENT heart attacks and strokes. We have written two books that may help you learn about your individual risk factors and what you can do to prevent heart problems, strokes and diabetes. “Take Charge: A Woman’s Guide to a Healthier Heart” and “Take Charge: A Man’s Roadmap to a Healthy Heart – So simple you will not even have to stop and ask for directions” – our books offer realistic steps to help you develop a healthier lifestyle, all of the information in the books comes from the latest medical guidelines available and is written in an easy to follow and understand format.