Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder that affects around 18 million Americans, yet many of these people are untreated. Left untreated, sleep apnea can have serious health consequences and can be very dangerous:
- High Blood Pressure – Frequently waking up throughout the night causes hormonal systems to go into overdrive, raising blood pressure. Sudden drops in oxygen levels can also increase blood pressure.
- Heart Problems – The disruption of oxygen flow throughout the body makes it hard for the brain to regulate the flow of blood to the arteries, this can cause heart attacks, heart disease and atrial fibrillation.
- Obesity – Sleep apnea can lower your metabolism and impairs your body’s endocrine systems, causing your body to release a hormone that makes you crave carbohydrates and sweets.
- Stroke – The disruption of oxygen flow throughout the body makes it hard for the brain to regulate the flow of blood to the brain, increasing the odds of a stroke.
- Medical complications – People with untreated sleep apnea are more likely to experience complications following major surgery, using certain medications and general anesthesia.
- Accidents – The lack of deep sleep when you have sleep apnea causes daytime drowsiness, which can lead to car crashes or other accidents.
If you or your bed partner suspect you may have sleep apnea, see your doctor to discuss your symptoms.