Might you have sleep apnea? Exercise helps, even without weight loss

Sleep apnea is a condition where the airway “cuts off” (obstructs) during sleep.  Not all snorers have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), but they are more likely to have it.  Do you (or your husband) have it?  It’s important to know:  it can increase the risk of daytime sleepiness and accidents; stroke and heart attack; diabetes; erectile dysfunction; poorer mental functioning; and other ailments.

One of my anesthesiology colleagues in Toronto (Dr. Frances Chung) developed the STOP-BANG method of predicting sleep apnea.  The more of these risk factors you have, the more likely that you have sleep apnea:

STOP-Bang Sleep Apnea Screening Tool

Answer each of the following yes or no:

1. Do you SNORE loudly (louder than talking or loud enough to be heard through closed doors)?
2. Do you often feel TIRED, fatigued, or sleepy during daytime?
3. Has anyone OBSERVED you stop breathing during your sleep?
4. Do you have or are you being treated for high blood PRESSURE?
5. BMI more than 35?
6. AGE over 50 years old?
7. NECK circumference > 15.75 inches?
8. Male GENDER?
≥3 yes answers: High-risk for OSA
<3 yes answers: Low-risk for OSA

Breathing treatments (CPAP) at night can increase sleep and improve sleep quality in people with sleep apnea.

A new study shows that exercise can help:

To evaluate the efficacy of a 12-week exercise training program for reducing obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) severity and improving sleep quality, and to explore possible mechanisms by which exercise may reduce OSA severity.

Exercise training had moderate treatment efficacy … in sedentary overweight/obese adults, which suggests that exercise may be beneficial for the management of OSA beyond simply facilitating weight loss.

My sleep apnea used to have me feeling so tired…  but after 120 lbs weight loss, it appears to be gone! I no longer use CPAP.  I sleep so much better.

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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