Sleep Apnea: When Snoring Can Be Lethal
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is so common that at least 43% of patients with Atrial Fibrillation also suffer with it. For that reason alone, you should be tested for sleep apnea.
Aside from causing or triggering A-Fib, untreated sleep apnea can cause many other serious health threats.
Got Sleep Apnea? Your Life-Threatening Risks
Researchers at the U. of Wisconsin examined 22-years of mortality data on the study’s participants and found the following:
The Wisconsin Sleep Cohort Study
Beginning in 1989, the U. of Wisconsin study used a random sample of 1,522 Wisconsin state employees. The participants underwent overnight sleep apnea studies and many other tests at four-year intervals. They were not selected because they had known sleep problems. (After the testing, researchers contacted participants with severe sleep apnea and explained the health risks.)
The study reveals the numerous life-altering and life-threatening health issues associated with sleep apnea.
Sleep Apnea: a condition in which one or more pauses in breathing occur while sleeping, pauses can last a few seconds to minutes and can occur 30 times or more an hour.
More EPs are Sending Patients for Sleep Studies
So many A-Fib patients also suffer from sleep apnea that many Electrophysiologists (EPs) routinely send their patients for a sleep apnea study. Some A-Fib centers have their own sleep study program. (The patient just walks down the hall to an A-Fib sleep study area.)
For some lucky patients, normal sinus rhythm (NSR) can be restored just by controlling their sleep apnea and getting a good night’s sleep.
Take Action: Sleep Apnea Can be Lethal
The Wisconsin Sleep Study findings demonstrate just how lethal sleep apnea can be. Sleep apnea isn’t a minor health problem, and it’s a condition you can do something about. (Just like A-Fib, you don’t have to just live with it).
If your significant other tells you that you pause breathing when you sleep or that you snore, do something about it! (Not everyone with sleep apnea snores, but snoring may indicate sleep apnea.)
Talk with your doctors about testing for sleep apnea. You may need an in-lab sleep study (or the newer option of a home sleep test).
Learn More About Sleep Studies
Read about in-lab and in-home sleep studies in our article, Sleep Apnea: Home Testing with WatchPAT Device and the Philips Respironics
On a Personal Note: My wife has sleep apnea (but not A-Fib). While sleeping, she would actually stop breathing for what seemed like a long time, then suddenly gasp for air. It was very scary! But now she uses a CPAP machine, sleeps soundly and wakes up rested.
Sleep apnea may run in families. Her brother has sleep apnea also.