SLEEP APNEA – COULD I HAVE IT? OR MY HUSBAND?

Sleep apnea is a dangerous condition, whereby the airway closes off during sleep due to increased fat in the neck (among other factors). The problems in sleep apnea relate particularly from the low levels of oxygen in the blood during obstructed breathing.  Low oxygen levels produce substances in the blood that are inflammatory and damaging to your tissues.  Low oxygen levels deprive important organs, such as the brain, of much-needed oxygen.

Up to half of obese people have sleep apnea.  This results in many health problems:

· Poor sleep

· Daytime sleepiness

· Increased appetite (another vicious cycle!)

· High blood pressure

· Stroke, heart attack, and death!

While sleep apnea is common in obese people, it is often undiagnosed. One clue is daytime sleepiness: sleep apnea can result in poor sleep, leaving people feeling tired during the day (ever fall sleep at a stoplight??).

Most sleep apnea patients snore, but not all snorers have sleep apnea.  Your chances of having sleep apnea are increased the more of the following risk factors you have:

· Snoring

· Day time sleepiness

· Bed partner tells you that your breathing obstructs or “cuts off”

· High blood pressure

· BMI > 35 (click for  online BMI calculator)

· Male gender

· Age > 50 years

· Neck circumference > 40 cm (15.7″)

If you have many of these risk factors, you might ask your doctor is she recommends a sleep study to see if you might have sleep apnea.

More to follow in Part 2

Dr John Ellis MD

Board-certified anesthesiologist, with expertise in cardiovascular anesthesia and the implications of obesity and sleep apnea in anesthesia. See vascularanesthesia.com for professional information. Dr. Ellis has used the strategies in here to: (1) lose 120 lbs over 18 months, (2) stop all antihypertensive medicines, and (3) no longer need CPAP treatment for sleep apnea.

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