What Is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a condition where you stop breathing during
your sleep. This can occur from 5-100 times per hour. This may result in
dropping oxygen levels, forcing the heart to work harder, which may
lead to high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack or abnormal heart
rhythms. There are two common types of sleep apnea:
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)
This occurs when the tissue in the back of the throat
collapses and partially or completely blocks the airway during sleep.
When this happens, air cannot get into the lungs. This is a very common
sleep disorder and happens because the muscles inside the throat relax
as you sleep. Blockage of the airway can happen from a few times a night
to several hundred times per night.
Central Sleep Apnea (CSA)
This occurs when the brain fails to tell the lungs to
breathe during sleep. When the signal is lost, the lungs do not permit
the entry of oxygen. CSA is less common the OSA.
Untreated sleep apnea increases risk of and may contribute
to hypertension, stroke, heart attack, heart disease, abnormal heart
rhythms and decreased oxygen levels during sleep. It also increases the
risk for serious motor vehicle and workplace accidents.