How dangerous can sleep apnea be?
Star Wars actress and writer Carrie Fisher died from this among other factors
Jun 19, 2017
After suffering a heart attack on an international flight last December, it was unknown what exactly killed Carrie Fisher. However, coroner’s officials of Los Angeles County stated last Friday that sleep apnea and a combination of factors did.
Among these factors were atherosclerosis, a buildup of cholesterol, fatty tissues, and other substances in the arteries, and drug use (although it wasn’t specified if it was illegal drugs or prescription). Aside from those, she had also been vocal about some of her medical issues like addiction and bipolar disorder.
But sleep apnea?
It’s actually common but not widely known. National Institutes of Health describes it as a “disorder in which you have one or more pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while you sleep” because of a collapsed airway. These breathing pauses can last from a few seconds to minutes, and may occur 30 times or more an hour.
An airway collapses because of “extra tissue at the back of the airway such as large tonsils, decrease in the tone of the muscles holding the airway open, and the tongue falling back and closing off the airway,” according to the Lung Center of the Philippines (LCP).
Now, among the dangers it presents is that many cases go undiagnosed because of its difficulty to get identified. Its symptoms are pretty common (daytime sleepiness, fatigue, snoring, but not all people who snore has sleep apnea). And to make sure you have the illness, you need to undergo an overnight sleep study in a lab with help from sleep and breathing monitors.
Although it’s hardly a direct cause of death, when untreated, it can:
- Increase the risk of high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack and heart failure
- Make arrhythmias or irregular heartbeats more likely
- Increase the chance of having work-related or driving accidents
In our country, various hospitals offer treatments for sleep apnea like the LCP, St. Luke’s Medical Center, CPAP Philippines, and Capitol Medical Center. Among the medical care they perform are the CPAP therapy, where patients wear masks that provides air pressure for collapsed airways, and surgery, where tonsils, adenoids or other tissue in the airway are removed.
Change in lifestyle alongside hospital remedy is also needed to avoid and get the sleep apnea and other sleeping disorders away.
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