Sleep disorders are likely to be treated less seriously than other disorders. But studies show that a neglected sleep disorder can even cause a stroke. The risk factors also include hypertension, diabetes and heart problems.
Apnea or apnoea is suspended breathing. It refers to a usual pattern of pauses in the breathing pattern .But you are possibly suffering from obstructive sleep apnea if you have breathing pauses in your sleep. What makes it more alarming is that if you suffer from sleep apnea, you may not be aware of it yourself. Sleep apnea is of three types, namely, central, obstructive and complex apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the result of an obstruction in the air passage where in the air forces through itself noisily. And you snore. A physical block in the air passage is due to the relaxation of the soft tissues in the throat. If you have apnea for more than 20 seconds and repeatedly in sleep then you need serious medical attention. And this can remain unknown and unattended for years. OSA patents generally suffer from fatigue and drowsiness in the morning. Sleepiness in the daytime is one of the major causes of accidents. OSA is found mostly in men and in aged people.
Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) and Stroke
Severe sleep apnea doubles the risk of stroke than anything else. It need not cause a stroke independently but can lead to several other physical conditions which can ultimately result in a stroke. A person is considered to have severe sleep apnea when his breathing stops for 20 times in an hour. When breathing is interrupted several times, the body, deprived of its oxygen prepares itself for a fight. And this response results in the clotting of blood. Blood clots hinder the oxygen supply to the brain leading to stroke. It is the decreased blood oxygen saturation that causes a stroke. OSA is often a reason for high blood pressure and high blood pressure has great a tie up with stroke.
OSA and Heart
The repeated pauses in breathing deny oxygen supply to the brain. The increase in the carbon dioxide level activates the sympathetic nervous system. This in turn causes spikes in the blood pressure and increases the blood pressure and the heart rate. A systemic cardiac resistance develops when there is a change in the volume of blood pumped into the heart.
People suffering from undiagnosed OSA have an increasing mortality rate. A lot many people are treated for cardiovascular diseases. But many OSA patients go untreated mainly because they or their partners do not recognize the symptoms.
The symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea are as follows :
- Aparna KV