Sleep Apnea And What It Means

Sleep Apnea And What It Means

Sleep Apnea is a common condition that prevents people from achieving restful sleep. In addition, Sleep Apnea is linked with heart disease and a range of other serious health concerns.

What Is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep Apnea can be a chronic or even lifelong condition. Although it is common, it is also serious as it may result in a decreased flow of oxygen to the body and brain. Sleep Apnea causes breath to be interrupted during sleep. People who suffer from it may stop breathing multiple times throughout the night.

Types Of Sleep Apnea

  • Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA): The most common type that  happens when "the muscles in the back of the throat relax too much to allow normal breathing."
  • Central sleep apnea: This mysterious condition happens when the "brain doesn't send proper signals to the muscles that control breathing."
  • Complex sleep apnea syndrome: This is when a patient has both types of sleep apnea.

Sleep Apnea Risk Factors

  • Being overweight
  • Having a larger sized neck (17 inches or greater in men and 16 inches or greater in women)
  • Having larger sized tonsils or tongue
  • Having smaller sized jawbone
  • Narrow airway
  • Being older than 40 years old
  • Gastroesophageal reflux (GERD)
  • Family history
  • Alcohol or desitive use
  • Smoking

*Sources: WebMD and Mayo Clinic

Signs & Symptoms Of Sleep Apnea:

  • Waking up with a dry throat or mouth
  • Loud snoring that may wake yourself or others in your household
  • Interrupted breathing while sleeping
  • Insomnia
  • Morning headaches
  • Feeling drowsy or very sleepy during the day
  • High blood pressure or heart problems
  • Sleep deprived spouse or partner

*Sources: WebMD and Mayo Clinic

Sleep Apnea varies in severity, but the problem is more serious than simply snoring since it may result in decreased oxygen flow to your brain and body. According to the Mayo Clinic, it is connected to heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 Diabetes, fatigue, and other health concerns.

How Sleep Apnea May Affect Your Hrv And SpO2

In some cases, Sleep Apnea desaturates oxygen levels, Blood oxygen saturation SPO2 may decrease as a result.

Sleep Apnea also may alter heart rate variability (HRV). The effect varies depending on the type of Sleep Apnea involved. Some studies found that Obstructive sleep apnea can result in increased absolute high frequency power while Central sleep apnea may result in reduced very low frequency.

This may be confusing as higher HRV is generally associated with good health, while Sleep Apnea is a major risk factor for heart disease. Researcher Matthew T. Naughton, MD, of Alfred Hospital and Monash University in Melbourne, Australia explains: "Heart rate patterns are influenced enormously by breathing patterns," said Dr. Naughton. "In heart failure patients during sleep, this information might be able to determine the presence or absence and type of sleep apnea. "

If you have symptoms of Sleep Apnea, be sure to discus it with your primary care medical provider. In many cases lifestyle changes like losing weight or quitting smoking help. In other cases, your doctor may come up with a treatment plan.

Sources And Resources

Sleep Apnea Symptoms, WebMD

Sleep Apnea, Mayo Clinic

"Interrelationships Between Body Mass, Oxygen Desaturation, And Apnea-hypopnea Indices In A Sleep Clinic Population" from Sleep by Ling IT, James AL, Hillman DR.

"Sleep-related Breathing Disorder Linked To Increased Heart Rate Variability," Science Daily

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