What’s the Connection Between Sleep Apnea and Strokes?

Obstructive sleep apnea is dangerous for many reasons. Most people just think about the fact that this condition means you will stop sleeping in your sleep. This is scary enough. However, obstructive sleep apnea can increase the chances of other conditions as well, including having a stroke.

 

When you have sleep apnea, you stop breathing. This leads to a decrease of oxygen to the brain and an increase in blood pressure. High blood pressure is a risk factor for stroke. Furthermore, these factors harm the brain’s ability to prevent it from being damaged. Because you are having these episodes multiple times throughout the nights, it reduces the brain’s ability to meet its own metabolic needs.

 

Sleep apnea affects your entire body because your body is trying to force you to take a breath. While all its resources are being devoted to this one task, many other functions are negatively affected. Sleep apnea’s effect on the vascular parts of the brain can cause a stroke.

 

It is important to get treated for sleep apnea because it can result in a catastrophe. Treating the sleep apnea can reduce to chance of stroke, high blood pressure, and other conditions. Sleep apnea doubles the chance of stroke in men. Worldwide, stroke is a significant cause of death, ranking second. There have been many studies, confirming the link between sleep apnea and stroke.

 

It is an important condition to get under control because if you have a stroke during sleep, it may not become apparent until the morning. This delay is important because if more than three hours have passed before getting treatment, the doctors will not be able to administer drugs that will reverse the effect of the stroke.

 

Since there is a significant link between stroke and sleep apnea, people diagnosed with sleep apnea need to take steps to reduce the occurrences of both conditions. If you have not been diagnosed with sleep apnea, but you exhibit some of the signs, you should be tested. For instance, if you are always tired, even after a full nights sleep, or you have loud snoring, you might have sleep apnea.

 

Taking charge of your health and contacting the right doctors to educate you on your conditions is key. Without intervention for your sleep apnea, you may suffer a stroke and be left with its devastating effects.

 

Originally posted at AlexLucio.net

Advertisements

Sleep Apnea and Driver Fatigue

Sleep is top safety concern in the transportation industry. The public demands that drivers be well-rested before taking commercial vehicles on the road, and trucking companies understand it’s imperative to prevent accidents, but regulations that enforce required sleep minimums aren’t always the answer.

There is increasing industry recognition that among the many conditions for which anyone behind the wheel should be treated is sleep apnea — a disorder that can cause breathing to pause hundreds of time per night, triggering momentary wakefulness that leaves the sufferer feeling sleep deprived the following day. For drivers, this can result in fatigue, impaired judgment and slowed reaction times despite having had the required hours of sleep.

According to The Federal Motor Vehicle Carrier Safety Administration, up to 13 percent of accidents involving commercial trucks may be the direct result of drivers who are too tired to be working safely. What’s worse, the organization believes that truckers have a rate of sleep apnea up to four times higher than the general population, in part due to the lifestyle challenges of being on the road.

While a physician may declare a driver medically ineligible to drive due to an unsafe condition, the rules governing sleep apnea are vague. Since both the cost of testing for the disorder and the equipment necessary to treat it are cost-prohibitive for many, it’s likely that not all recommendations receive follow-up.

Unlike conditions such as diabetes, there are no simple tests that can show how a driver with sleep apnea is affected and if they’re compliant with prescribed treatment.

Industry experts suggest that changing how transportation companies see the threat of sleep apnea can help mitigate the risk. In addition to fears that apnea-associated symptoms may result in accidents, employers are also acknowledging the cost of fatigue in terms of productivity. Several major companies have realized significant health cost savings as well as performance improvements by implementing fatigue reduction programs that specifically include the treatment of sleep apnea.

Until there is a clear and fair regulatory solution to address the problem of sleep apnea among commercial drivers, preventing it’s potentially deadly consequences remains a partnership between drivers and their employers. With a collaborative effort, it can be a win for both the transportation industry and the public.

 

Originally posted at AlexLucio.net

New Study Uses Blood Tests to Screen for Sleep Apnea

Patients are commonly diagnosed with sleep apnea following when a sleep disorder specialist obtains a medical history and perform a physical exam. Affected patients commonly complain of habitual snoring and an inability to get quality sleep. They also have larger neck sizes and a smaller upper respiratory airway. Individuals suspected to have the disorder typically undergo a sleep study. However, recent research reveals that specific blood tests may hasten diagnosis and treatment.

 

Biomarker Study

 

The research involved 264 male adults from various locations. Blood samples were taken from each of the men and tested for various levels that included C-reactive protein, hemoglobin A1c and erythropoietin. Elevations in C-reactive protein, erythropoietin and hemoglobin A1c correlated with the presence and severity of obstructive sleep apnea. The lack of oxygen caused by apnea naturally increases erythropoietin levels.

 

The findings reveal that blood testing proved superior to traditional methods used for sleep apnea screening. The biomarkers also revealed that patients suffering from the disorder may or may not have symptoms. The blood tests were more accurate than body mass index determination, as half of all people suffering from sleep apnea are not overweight. By making blood tests part of the diagnostic regimen, sleep specialists may be better able to diagnose and treat patients based on the severity of the disorder.

 

Obstructive Sleep Apnea Treatment

 

Treatment methods are designed to ensure that the airway remains open when an affected individual sleeps. The proper mode of treatment eliminates symptoms and reduces the possibility of developing any of the medical conditions that may occur. Sleep specialists may prescribe a variety of therapies based on the severity of the disorder.

 

Continuous positive airway pressure or CPAP remains one of the more effective treatment options. The therapy involves wearing a CPAP mask, which is connected to tubing and a device that continually blows air into the passages.

 

Some apnea sufferers may be advised to change their sleep position. Sleeping on one side or the other helps keep the airway open during sleep. However, the tactic is not always effective.

 

An obese patient diagnosed with sleep apnea is often told to lose weight through changes in diet combined with an increase in physical activity. However, not all patients are able to maintain the weight loss.

 

Avoiding alcohol or medications designed to induce sleep are commonly discouraged. The substances may cause an excess of muscular relaxation, which leads to the obstruction.

 

Originally posted on AlexLucio.net on September 25, 2018

Sleep Apnea Frequently Missed in Black Americans

Statistics indicate that nearly 42 million adults living in the United States live with sleep apnea. If not diagnosed and treated, the disorder often leads to an increased risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and other health issues. A study performed by researchers found that a large number of African-American adults live with sleep apnea that has not been diagnosed or treated.

 

Jackson Heart Sleep Study

 

The study involved 852 men and women of African-American descent for the project. The average age of the adults was 63. During the course of the sleep study, the researchers found 24 percent of the participants suffered from moderate to severe sleep apnea. The scientists also found that up to 15 percent of the sleep apnea sufferers were female. However, only five percent of the volunteers had been diagnosed by a health care provider. The data suggests that 95 percent of the people had the problem but were never diagnosed or treated.

 

The study revealed that the sleep apnea sufferers had chronic snoring problems. They also had an abnormally high body mass indexes and larger neck circumferences.

 

The director of the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research from the National Institutes of Health believes that the study’s findings were revealing. Although the data indicates that more research is necessary to further develop the programs needed to ensure that more African-Americans receive diagnosis and treatment for the disorder, this is a significant starting point. More research on the topic will make that possible in time, and the hope is that more research will allow doctors to diagnose more people who suffer from sleep apnea with more accuracy.

 

About Sleep Apnea

 

Sleep apnea is classified as either central or obstructive. Central apnea occurs secondary to abnormal breathing patterns. Obstructive apnea involves a narrowing of the airway, which closes off air intake through the throat. Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common form of the disorder.

 

While asleep, the blockage causes an increase in carbon dioxide and a decrease of oxygen in the body. An individual may temporarily awaken to open the airway by engaging the upper respiratory muscles. They then typically take a number of deep breaths and fall back to sleep. Most do not remember the incident.

 

In either form of the disorder, affected individuals do not experience a restful sleep. They commonly feel unusually tired during the day without knowing the reason. The general fatigue can lead to an increased risk of becoming involved in an automotive accident. A loss of the ability to focus and concentrate also commonly affects work performance.

 

Alternative Sleep Apnea Treatments

Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder that thousands of people suffer from every year. One of the most frequently prescribed treatments is a CPAP machine, which pumps continuous positive air pressure and where the machine gets its name.

There are other methods, of course, that patients can use if a CPAP machine is not a viable option for any reason. Talk with your sleep doctor about some of these alternatives if you have sleep apnea but would prefer an alternative treatment plan:

Medical Weight Loss

In general, the greater a patient’s weight, the harder it is for their airway to remain stable and open. This is why so many sleep apnea patients also happen to have above-average weight, because the added weight further collapses the airway. Losing weight helps reduce this obstruction, and therefore opens the airway. For some sleep apnea patients, their treatment might just be as simple as returning to a healthy BMI range, and there are programs and even some medication that doctors can prescribe to guide the process.

It is the hope that with the reduced weight comes a more open airway, thereby alleviating the symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea, if not outright eliminating them.

Oral Appliances

Another popular appliance for patients with obstructive sleep apnea is a mandibular advancement device. These devices physically stabilize the jaw to maintain an open airway while sleeping.

Night Shift

Night Shift is a monitor from Advanced Brain Monitoring that vibrates when its user begins sleeping on their back. It’s worn at the back of the neck, and increases intensity in vibration until the user shifts their sleeping position. Snoring occurs most frequently when people sleep on their backs, so this product gently encourages the user to move into a different sleeping position and therefore stop snoring. It is worth noting, however, that people with neck, shoulder, or back pain, or a pacemaker, should opt for a different solution, as the Night Shift could interfere or negatively affect those conditions.

Winx

Winx is a machine that anyone who suffers from Obstructive Sleep Apnea should be able to try. Instead of a CPAP machine, which produces oxygen for the user, the Winx keeps the tongue and soft palate from falling back, subsequently blocking the airway. It uses a light vacuum and mouthpiece to accomplish this. Since it’s a newer therapy, not all insurance policies will cover it, but depending on your coverage, it could be an option.

 

Originally posted at AlexLucio.net!

The Dangerous Consequences of Sleep Apnea

Snoring is annoying and can disrupt your sleep and your significant other’s as well. However, it can have even more severe consequences if you snore and suffer from obstructive sleep apnea. Sleep apnea increases your risk of developing dangerous health conditions. However, these problems can be curbed if you seek treatment for your sleep apnea.

What Health Problems Can Arise from Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

It’s important to know what health problems can arise if you have obstructive sleep apnea. These conditions include the following:

  • High Blood Pressure: Sleep apnea can increase your blood pressure. Additionally, if your blood pressure is already on the upper side, it can get worse with obstructive sleep apnea because your body is under stress while you sleep. When your breathing is not proper, the level of oxygen in your blood decreases.
  • Heart Disease: If you have obstructive sleep apnea, you are far more likely to suffer a heart attack. Low oxygen in your blood means your heart receives less oxygen as well. You also experience additional stress during sleep because of frequent waking.
  • Type 2 Diabetes: Around 80 percent of people who have obstructive sleep apnea also have type 2 diabetes. Additionally, being obese increases the risk of suffering from both conditions.
  • Weight Gain: If you have gained a considerable amount of weight, it can also raise your risk of developing sleep apnea. Sleep apnea also makes it more difficult to lose weight. Being overweight or obese means you have more fat in the neck area, which can obstruct your breathing while you sleep.
  • Asthma: Individuals who have obstructive sleep apnea are more likely to develop asthma, a chronic lung disease.
  • Acid Reflux: Many people who have sleep apnea claim to suffer from acid reflux as well.

Treatment for Sleep Apnea

If you suffer from sleep apnea, you should seek treatment. Many of the other medical conditions that can develop when you have obstructive sleep apnea can be reduced or eliminated with the right treatment.

One means of treatment your doctor may prescribe is the usage of a CPAP machine. CPAP stands for “continuous positive airway pressure.” It is fitted with a hose at the end of which there is a mask. You wear that mask during the night while you sleep and receive oxygen, which can help you to breathe better and can improve your condition overall.

Other forms of treatment include mouth appliances, nerve stimulators, and surgery. It’s important to consult with your doctor to determine which type of treatment is most appropriate for you.

Sleep Apnea News: What’s Happening Right Now

Wondering what’s happening in the world of sleep apnea and sleep disorders? read on below to see a news roundup of the latest reports.

Profile of Mia Amdur

This profile about a girl living with sleep apnea (the daughter of American Sleep Apnea Association’s (ASAA) chief patient officer Adam Amdur) gives a good idea of what the illness is and the dangers of a severe case. Mia inherited adenoidal face syndrome, or “long face syndrome,” from both parents, and at age two once stopped breathing 27 times during one night. Her case required some plastic surgery to her face and a CPAP mask that gives her air while she sleeps, but thankfully, as a nine-year-old girl she seems to be doing fine.

NFL Star Talks About Sleep Apnea Diagnosis

Three years ago, football star Ryan Jensen’s career was in jeopardy. Despite getting eight hours of sleep per night, he was always tired; he kept losing weight and was so sluggish on the field that he was cut from the Baltimore Ravens. Even his loved ones noticed a change in behavior, as he was always acting angry now. Eventually his wife discovered that he was not breathing while he slept, and a home test revealed that he had sleep apnea. After getting treatment, Jensen credits his diagnosis with saving his career.

Lawsuit Over Workplace Discrimination

Gary Elias, a former employee at the Arizona State University, has filed a case with the Arizona Board of Regents over discrimination for his sleep apnea. Originally his supervisors gave him flexible work hours and allowed him to work from home in order to accommodate his condition, but in December 2014 a new boss revoked them. As a result he says that he “experienced severe daytime sleepiness, difficulty concentrating, and significant anxiety,” performed poorly and was eventually fired. The case was filed on August 31 and will have its first pretrial conference in November.

“Zap” Could Replace CPAP as Treatment

A new treatment could help people with severe sleep apnea. Called “Inspire,” this nerve stimulator can be turned on before sleep and then prevents the tongue from blocking the air passage, allowing those with the condition to breathe normally. This would replace the continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) masks which are worn to supply air during sleep; these masks can be difficult to clean, and are cumbersome when one travels. Inspire was approved for use in the United States in 2014, and five-year trials seems to show that users are doing well.