Sleep Apnea

When we hear the words "sleep apnea" we tend to think it's just a sleep disorder that causes snoring. But sleep apnea is a dangerous condition that can lead to heart attacks and death.

A few bold name celebrities have died recently from complications of sleep apnea. Sleep apnea contributed to Star Wars icon Carrie Fisher's death. And sleep apnea may have increased the risk of Joan Rivers' laryngospasm (throat tightness) when she underwent a endoscopy as an outpatient and died in 2014.
What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea occurs when people stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, sometimes hundreds of times a night. Interruptions in respirations can last from a few seconds to a few minutes.

Multiple breathing pauses means the brain, the heart and other vital organs are not getting enough oxygen.

Untreated sleep apnea can cause serious damage to your heart. Sleep apnea has been linked to cardiac disease, hypertension, COPD, diabetes, depression, stroke and other chronic disorders.

Sleep Apnea
How do you know if you have sleep apnea?

Your partner may be the first to inform you of snoring or breathing pauses.

If you wake up during the night coughing or making loud snorting noises or your heart is racing, that's because your reflexes startled you awake.

Your heart accelerates and you feel like you were running a marathon while you were asleep.

Prolonged sleep apnea causes the walls of your heart to thicken (from working so hard) which can lead to heart arrhythmias (irregular heart rates), stroke and heart failure.

Obesity is a risk for Obstructive sleep apnea which occurs when the airway is obstructed during sleep.
Why don't more doctors diagnose sleep apnea?

Because sleep apnea is diagnosed by sleep specialists during Sleep Studies -- and most general practitioners don't refer their patients for Sleep Studies -- even when the patient reports signs of sleep apnea.

This is why it is important to be your own patient advocate.
Signs & Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

  • Shortness of breath upon awakening

  • Rapid heart beat upon awakening

  • Snoring

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness

  • Excessive yawning during the day

  • Restless sleep

  • Observed or witnessed episodes of stopping breathing during sleep

  • Awakening with the urge to urinate

  • Difficulty maintaining continuous sleep

  • Morning headaches

  • Difficulty concentrating and mood shifts

    If you have any of these symptoms together or separately, notify your doctor or healthcare practitioner immediately.

    Treatment of Sleep Apnea

    CPAP or continuous positive airway pressure: The patient wears a mask over the nose that connects to a machine that gently pushes air through the mask to keep the airway open during sleep.

    Lose weight: doctors encourage obese patients to lose weight to decrease the risk of obstructive sleep apnea.

    This has been your Medical Minute

    More Info On the Web

    Sleep Apnea -- Cleveland Clinic

    What is Sleep Apnea? -- NIH

    What is Sleep Apnea? -- WebMD

    Sleep Apnea --

    Photos by Justin Horrocks/Getty Images, FatCamera/Getty Images

    • Phyllis

      Thank you so much for posting this.

    • Kim’s Original Face

      All these symptons I have (Minus the snoring) and but I have horrible allergies/sinuses which clog up at night and make it hard for me to breathe gotta check into this.

    • Rachel

      Im kinda baffled that Joan Rivers and Carrie Fisher had this problem. I unknowingly thought sleep apnea was weight related. I dated a guy once who snored so bad it sound like he was eating drywall at night. It didnt help that he was thick up.

    • Soda

      Sleep apnea contributed to Star Wars icon Carrie Fisher‘s death.
      Of course cocaine, heroin, methadone, and ecstasy contributed also.

    • E-VannaRootsAllEvil

      Carrie fisher died from more than sleep apnea. Check her toxicology report

    • BettyBoop

      I've never heard of anyone dying of sleep apnea. Maybe everyone that's ever died in their sleep had it.

    • SG

      It's confusing to me too. My mother sleeps with the machine. My brother snores so loudly at night that I am actually scared for him. He needs the machine. They are both overweight.

    • Nancy Drew-Natural & Luv’n It!
    • WutizaGRANNY!
    • Nancy Drew-Natural & Luv’n It!
    • Renee Bee
    • Justlooknout

      Is the Miss Wut Wut, son that in the Military?

    • Justlooknout

      OMG, I just busted out laughing pRetty badly.

    • Quitedeliteful

      This is a real thing because my brother has been diagnosed with sleep apnea and is in a study which has him hooked up to all kind of machines... I think he just needs to put the fork down and stop scarfing down food like a bottomless pit...

    • Cricket404

      If he is a big guy, the older he gets the more health problems he will have. I wise man once said, they aren't any fat old people.

    • Cricket404

      My husband has sleep apnea, along with a long list of other illnesses. Problem is he will not go to a doctor because of co-pay. He doesn't want to pay doctors, complains about $200 but will eat that in less than a week. I've tried, prayed, screamed and hollered. My only alternative is to make sure the life insurance is paid up and the will is signed (per my therapist). I'm at the age where my male classmates are dying of heartaches and the women of cancer. Take care of your health, you only have 1 life.

    • Quitedeliteful

      This is so true... I look at the folks I know that are 80+ and they are all skinny...

    • dontgetblocked

      I'll pray for your husband.

    • dontgetblocked

      Sleep Apnea is s serious illness. Thanks for the write up Auntie.

    • SandraRose

      You're welcome, hun. I have sleep apnea but I can't sleep with the CPAP mask on. ?

    • Being bad is way more fun

      They do have a mouth piece that you can wear that is not hooked up to a machine .. You may want to look into that .. I cant wear all that either !!

    • ArDnAhC45

      I had a heart attack last year and I remember that I would wake myself up from hearing myself snore. I'm also diabetic and have hypertension but I'm not overweight. If you look at me, you wouldn't believe that I survived a heart attack at the age of 46. I guess the snoring was a sign because I no longer snore.

    • ArDnAhC45

      Like your avi of a legend

    • Ajavee

      Thanks for posting.

    • Wreckognize Game

      I'm glad you made it through. Blessings to you??

    • nick c

      Those co pays are nasty

    • dontgetblocked

      My doctor suspects I have sleep apnea. I definitely wake myself up snoring and choking. I'm going to make an appointment to see a specialist. I just didn't want to go through the hassle of sleeping somewhere overnight. But now I see I need to get it done. Glad you're better.

    • dontgetblocked

      I've seen that mask and it's a lot. But you may have to wear it. We want you safe and healthy.

    • Rita Gunnarson

      My throat was burning; I thought I had strep throat. I had pain in my neck, and there was swelling around my collar bone. The first doctor I went to said he did not know why there was swelling. He gave me antibiotics and told me that if the swelling was not better to come back in two weeks. I went back in two weeks and he said he did not know what was wrong. Since I do not have insurance, I went to a hospital emergency room, and they said I have COPD.The disease does not improve. My "good days" are far and few these days. My dad and his dad died from this. I am only writing this to inform others that nothing was really working to help my condition.I started on COPD herbal formula i ordered from Health Herbal Clinic,i read reviews from other previous patients who used the herbal formula, my symptoms totally declined over a 5 weeks use of the COPD natural herbal formula. i am now doing very well, my lungs are totally repaired!! Visit there website www. healthherbalclinic. net or email Info@ healthherbalclinic. net

    • Chaseboogie The Prince

      And after taking all of that, that is the reason she couldn't fall asleep. LOL!

    • starbright9449


    • ArDnAhC45

      Thanks, me too. The doctor said if I didn't go to the ER, the next one would've been a massive heart attack. So yes, don't sleep on your health. You only have one heart and its best to keep the original. I did read somewhere that a boy had a heart transplant and he died the first day of school. Very sad.