Obstructive Sleep Apnea, (OSA) is a breathing disorder that, when left untreated, can have a devastating impact on your overall well-being. By definition, OSA is a breathing disorder characterized by brief interruptions of breathing during sleep. These pauses in breathing can last from 10 seconds to a minute or longer, and can occur as often as 20 to 60 times per hour.
Studies indicate that these “apnea events” can cause major changes in blood pressure and oxygen levels. Over time, the stress on your body builds, increasing your risk for devastating health problems such as the following:
- 1. Heart Disease: Studies have shown that OSA increases your risk for an irregular heartbeat, coronary artery disease, heart attack and congestive heart failure.
- 2. High Blood Pressure: The more severe your OSA, the higher your blood pressure can go.
- 3. Research indicates that OSA can contribute to the onset of diabetes because it is associated with impaired glucose tolerance and insulin resistance. Type 2 diabetes is a leading cause of death in the U.S. and occurs when the body fails to use insulin effectively.
- 4. Brain Damage: A 2008 study posted in the Sleep Journal shows visual evidence of brain damage that can occur in people who have OSA. Mood, memory and blood pressure can be affected.
- 5. Stroke: OSA increases your risk for stroke because it occurs when blood flow to the brain is interrupted.
The good news is that OSA is highly treatable. Each patient’s therapy is different, and is based on their medical history, physical examination and sleep study results, but the most commonly prescribed treatment is CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) Therapy. Pressure from an air blower opens the airway during sleep to prevent lapses in breathing.
CPAP Therapy is extremely effective in cases of Sleep Apnea, but, can also pose difficulties for the patient, especially in areas of discomfort while sleeping with required CPAP masks. Luckily, there are aids available to address some of the most common complaints that often accompany this therapy.See the new and improved CPAP Pillow from Contour Products.