Recently there was news of a high school alumnus, Danny that passed away in his sleep at the young age of 59. Shocked and saddened by the news, I found out that he died of congestive heart failure. Knowing that congestive heart failure has many symptoms and causes no one knew at the time of the funeral why this young, easy-going man had CHF without knowing he had it. Just yesterday I was told it was due to SLEEP APNEA! He had symptoms of sleep apnea for years and did nothing about it, because he didn’t know the signs or how life threatening sleep apnea can be. Sleep apnea is a major health issue that affects millions of people and they don’t even know they have it. Studies have discovered an association between sleep apnea and congestive heart failure. People with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) may damage the right side of their heart because it has to pump harder to maintain the lungs attempt to overcome the airway obstruction. Nearly one half of the people in the study had not been diagnosed.
Sleep apnea definition according to Wikipedia.com is a sleep disorder characterized by abnormal pauses in breathing or instances of abnormally low breathing, during sleep. Each pause in breathing, called an apnea, can last from a few seconds to minutes, and may occur 5 to 30 times or more an hour. Similarly, each abnormally low breathing event is called a hypopnea. There are three forms of sleep apnea: central (CSA), obstructive (OSA), and complex or mixed sleep apnea (i.e., a combination of central and obstructive) constituting 0.4%, 84% and 15% of cases respectively. In CSA, breathing is interrupted by a lack of respiratory effort; in OSA, breathing is interrupted by a physical block to airflow despite respiratory effort, and snoring is common. Snoring happens by vibrations from the relaxed throat tissues and heavy snorers that also have pauses of breathing could be at risk for heart disease.
Congestive heart failure (CHF) affects approximately 2.5 million Americans. The symptoms of congestive heart failure vary, but can include fatigue, diminished exercise capacity, shortness of breath, and swelling. Congestive heart failure (CHF) is a condition in which the heart’s function as a pump is inadequate to deliver oxygen rich blood to the body. Congestive heart failure can also be the result of a weakened or thickened heart muscle that increases blood pressure.
High blood pressure is also the result of OSA due to the lack of oxygen from the frequent pauses in breath sending signals to the brain to tighten blood vessels in order to increase the flow of oxygen to the heart and brain. Hyperthyroidism may result from the abnormal high demand of oxygen-rich blood by other body’s tissues a.k.a. high output heart failure. One problem with associating OSA directly with heart disease is that many have other co-existing diseases as well. To determine if there is an association your doctor needs to monitor your blood pressure to see if it improves with treatment. If so, the evidence is good that there is a relationship between your high blood pressure and your sleep apnea.
The National Center for Sleep Disorders have suggested that central apnea can cause high blood pressure, surges of adrenaline and irregular heartbeats. Central sleep apnea occurs when the brain fails to send a signal to breathe. It is not caused by obstruction or snoring. Sleep apnea suffers have a higher risk of death than the rest of the population due to CHF, high blood pressure, stroke and depression. Sleep apnea should be treated in order for the sufferers to survive. Do you have sleep apnea?
Take the Sleep Apnea Quiz. Answer “yes” or “no” to the following statements. Keep track of the totals for each!
1. I frequently awaken with a dry mouth.
2. My spouse complains that I snore often during sleep.
3. My snoring is so bad my bed-partner left years ago.
4. I often wake up feeling unrefreshed,like I barely got any sleep at all.
5. Sometimes on long drives I have to pull over and nap, so I don’t fall asleep.
6. Sometimes I fight to stay awake at work; especially if it’s boring.
7. I need more than 2 cups of coffee or tea to make it through the day.
8. I awaken frequently to use the bathroom more than once a night.
9. I have awakened from sleep gasping for breath more than once.
10. Sometimes I awaken from sleep with my heart pounding. I don’t know why.
11. I have been told that I stop breathing during sleep.
12. On weekends I take naps and sleep in to make up for lost sleep during the week.
13. I don’t have as much energy as I used to. I must be losing a step.
14. I often get heartburn when I sleep.
15. When I drink alcohol, people say that my snoring is horrible.
If you answered “yes” to 4 or more of the above statements, or you feel that you may suffer from a sleep disorder it is time to seek medical advice. Your health care provider will recommend certain treatment options or send you to a sleep specialist. The best way to determine if you have sleep apnea is to be monitored at a sleep lab where they will evaluate your sleep. REMEMBER: Sleep Apnea is considered to be life-threatening.
The best form of treatment for sleep apnea is for the sufferer to use a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device while they sleep. The CPAP provides continuous positive pressure to maintain a continuous level of positive airway pressure. The available evidence tells us that when you treat people with sleep apnea using CPAP, their blood pressure is not only lower at night—it’s also lower during the day. Moreover, people with atrial fibrillation [a common type of irregular heart beat] with sleep apnea that is appropriately treated have only a 40% chance of coming back for further treatment of their atrial fibrillation. If their sleep apnea is untreated, the chance of a recurrence of atrial fibrillation goes up to 80%. The message to heart patients with sleep apnea is: With treatment of your sleep apnea, your chances of improvement are considerably better.
If your doctor has diagnosed you with sleep apnea, there are sleep apnea supplies that you are going to need to purchase
* Contour C-PAP Sleep Apnea Pillow
* CPAP full mask or nasal mask
* CPAP/BiPAP machines
* Tubing, cleaners and Respironics Premium Chin Strap
* Rechargeable battery packs
* Cord extenders
* Machine filters
* Travel size machines
* Electrical conversions
Packages including the basic CPAP machine, a heated humidifier and a nasal mask may be purchased rather than buying each piece separately.
You may also be able to get your supplies at a discounted price or free. There are service providers that work with groups of independent companies that provide CPAP and BiPAP supplies. Medicare and most private insurance companies will cover your CPAP or BiPAP supplies.
When you talk to your doctor let them know that it is a good idea to work on strengthening your breathing and throat muscles while addressing your sleep apnea. If you have a moderate case of sleep apnea, otherwise you can become dependent on drugs and/or mechanical devices for the rest of your life. The U.S.
National Institutes of Health states that new treatments and techniques like breathing and throat exercises will not only be effective but also people need to be motivated to do them. A Didgeridoo can meet these requirements as people were highly motivated to use them on average of six times a week. Regular playing of a didgeridoo reduces sleep apnea and snoring in people with moderate obstructive sleep apnea syndrome and also improves the sleep quality of partners. Severity of disease, expressed by the apnea-hypopnea index, is also substantially reduced after four months of didgeridoo playing.
According to The New York Times performing breathing exercises is another treatment technique your physician may recommend. These exercises can strengthen the throat muscles, reducing sleep apnea symptoms. Here are a few breathing exercises from lifescripts.com:
Breathing to inflate a balloon can strengthen the throat muscles, according to Helpguide.org, a non-profit educational wellness website. Take a balloon and place your lips around the opening. Breathe in through your nose, then blow into the balloon. Inflate the balloon as much as you can with your exhale, then breathe in release the air. Without taking the balloon away from your mouth, repeat the exercise five times. Stop if you begin to feel lightheaded.
This exercise simulates your breathing at night, training your body how best to breathe. Press the tongue to the roof of your mouth. Try to place more than the tongue’s tip — use as much length as you can. Breathe in and out through the nose in a slow, controlled manner as you hold the tongue in place.
Perform this exercise immediately upon waking up each morning. Stand and bend forward at the waist, letting the arms dangle loosely. Bend the knees slightly to maintain your balance. Slowly inhale, rolling your back up slowly, one vertebrae at a time. Let your head be the last to straighten. Hold the breath for 3 to 5 seconds while standing, then exhale to lower the body back down to your starting position. Repeat two to three times.
Sleep Apnea is serious and you can have this disorder if you snore or not. Please seek medical advice and adhere to your doctor’s treatment plan to alleviate your sleep apnea. Don’t end up like Danny. RIP DANNY
The information in this site is for informational purposes only and not meant as a substitute for advice from your healthcare professional. This information should not be used to diagnosis or treat any health problem. Information and statements provided by asleepeasy.com about supplements that have not been evaluated by the FDA are not intended to diagnosis, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Seek the advice of a qualified healthcare professional regarding any medical condition. Reliance on any information in this article or on this site is solely at your own risk.