Sleep Apnea refers to a condition of pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while you sleep
Sleep apnea is a condition of momentary stop of breathing during sleep. Sleep apnea may cause serious damage to the heart (arrhythmia and heart failure) due to high blood pressure. Sleep apnea may lead to lowering of oxygen levels, changes in carbon dioxide levels, pressure changes within the chest and inflammation. You are at risk of heart disease when you reach a condition where your breathing stops roughly 30 times or more per hour.
Types of Sleep Apnea
There are two types of sleep apnea – Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Central Sleep Apnea. The former is due to obstruction of airway and inability to breath normally during sleep. The latter occurs when the brain is not able to send proper signals to the muscles that control breathing. The fallout may be evident as heart failure or stroke. In some, excess fluid (sodium and water) that gets retained in the lungs during sleep, may lead to shortness of breath.
Effects of Sleep Apnea
The effects of sleep apnea include, waking up again and again throughout sleep, reduced duration of sleep, daytime sleepiness, fatigue and insomnia. Poor sleep leads to problems of memory, concentration and mood changes. During the condition of sleep apnea, you heart may be stressed, and there may be increased blood pressure and heart rate. There may be increased production of compounds that may cause inflammation.
Treatments for Sleep Apnea
For mild cases of sleep apnea, lifestyle changes as losing weight or quitting smoking are advised. The continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) delivers air pressure through a mask placed over the nose while you sleep. CPAP keeps your upper airway passages open, prevents sleep apnea and snoring. Surgery may be advised when all other treatment options have failed.