Sudden cardiac arrest kills more than 300,000 Americans each year and often strikes without warning. Recent evidence suggests that there is a link between sudden cardiac arrest and sleep apnea, a common sleep disorder that causes a person's breathing to pause or become shallow. This sleep disorder increases a person's chances of developing heart disease and places them at a higher risk for sudden cardiac arrest.
Researchers found people with sleep apnea were 2.6 times more likely to have sudden cardiac arrest while sleeping during the hours of 10pm and 6am "The prevalence of obstructive sleep apnea in Western populations is high, (over 18 million) and will likely only continue to grow given the obesity epidemic and direct relationship between obesity and sleep apnea," said lead author Dr. Apoor Gami, M.D., MSc, FACC, a cardiologist at Midwest Heart Specialists - Advocate Medical Group in Elmhurst, Ill. In his study that sought out 10,000 Minnesota residents with suspected sleep disorders, it was determined that 78 percent of them had moderate sleep apnea. These patients were tracked and observed for up to 15 years, with an average follow-up every five years. During this time, it was reported that 142 of these patients had a fatal SCA or required resuscitation via CPR or automated external defibrillator (AED). Which concludes that the overall risk of this study was 0.27 percent. However, given that one in five adults suffer from even mild sleep apnea, this could add hundreds of thousands of people to that risk.
So why is sleep apnea so dangerous to the heart? It all has to do with your low blood oxygen levels. The body's organs respond to the oxygen interruptions by demanding more blood. This overworks the cardiovascular system and other major organs, which are supposed to be at rest. These sleep apnea episodes will wake you up from a deep sleep into light sleep stage, as your body reacts with a Flight or Fight response. The low oxygen levels during sleep can make you feel very tired in the morning and will contribute to more restless sleep. The multiple episodes of low blood oxygen (hypoxia or hypoxemia) can lead to sudden death from an irregular heartbeat. Individuals with severe sleep apnea, have an 80 percent risk for SCA due to their blood oxygen levels dropping below 78 percent.
Research shows that oral appliance therapy is a very effective treatment option for Obstructive Sleep Apnea. The oral appliance supports the jaw in a forward position to help maintain an open upper airway. It is considered the first line of treatment for OSA by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Oral appliance therapy is a benefit provided by many medical insurance plans and our sleep coordinators will be happy to assist you with any questions.
Raphaelson Dental Sleep Center is very proud to be one of the few dental practices on Long Island to help the medical community treat Sleep Apnea. “We are excited to screen our patients for Sleep Apnea, knowing that we are improving their health and potentially saving their lives”. We believe it is our moral responsibility to the health of our patients to screen them for Sleep Apnea. Our sleep specialists are here to help, “Transform Your Sleep, Redefine Your Health”.
Symptoms of sleep apnea can include: snoring, silent pauses in breathing, choking or gasping sounds, daytime sleepiness or fatigue, insomnia, morning headaches, feeling irritable, depressed, or experiencing mood swings, and waking up frequently to urinate. Talk to us about your symptoms, we are here to help! Call us for a Free Airway Evaluation today.
Sources: Gami AS, Olson EJ, Shen WK, et al. Obstructive Sleep Apnea and the Risk of Sudden Cardiac Death: A Longitudinal Study of 10,701 Adults. Journal of the American College of Cardiology. 2013.
Gami AS, Howard DE, Olson EJ, Somers VK. Day-Night Pattern of Sudden Death in Obstructive Sleep Apnea. NEJM. 2005.
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