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One of the abnormalities of healthy sleeping is sleep apnea. This occurs when the upper airway is intermittently narrowed during sleep, causing breathing to be difficult or completely blocked. These can be brief interruptions in breathing during sleep, or they be of varying length, throughout the sleeping period. It can also be called obstructive sleep apnea, the most common form, and if it continues on without treatment, it can raise the risk for stroke, cardiovascular disease and heart attacks.
A recent study supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently published a report in the open-access Journal of PLoS Medicine. The study consisted of more than 6,000 men and women aged 40 years and older who had no sleep apnea or had mild, moderate, or severe sleep apnea. After an average of eight years, the participants who had severe sleep apnea at enrollment were one and one-half times more likely to die from any cause, regardless of age, gender, race, or weight, or whether they were a current or former smokers or had other medical ailments such as high blood pressure, heart disease, or diabetes. Other findings linked untreated sleep apnea with overweight and obesity, and diabetes. Untreated sleep apnea contributes to excessive daytime sleepiness, which lowers the performance in the workplace and at school, and increases the risk of injuries and death from drowsy driving and other accidents.
It has been estimated that more than 12 million adult Americans are believed to have sleep apnea, and most are not diagnosed or treated. Treatment is aimed at restoring normal breathing and includes lifestyle changes, surgery, mouthpieces, and breathing devices, such as continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP. Treatment routines can help to restore sleep-related quality of life and performance.
Another study published in the endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM) states that obstructive sleep apnea may raise the risk of osteoporosis, particularly among women or older individuals. One of the study's anchors, Kai-Jen Tien, MD, of Chi Mei Medical Center in Tainan, Taiwan states, "when sleep apnea periodically deprives the body of oxygen, it can weaken bones and raise the risk of osteoporosis. The progressive condition can lead to bone fractures, increased medical costs, reduced quality of life and even death." "As more and more people are diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea worldwide, both patients and health care providers need to be aware of the heightened risk of developing other conditions," Tien said, "We need to pay more attention to the relationship between sleep apnea and bone health so we can identify strategies to prevent osteoporosis."