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Why Sleep Apnea Side Effects Can be Dangerous

May 9, 2008
Sleep apnea doesn't just affect your sleep, it causes a slew of health issues and can be dangerous to other people as well. Every year hundreds of auto crashes are attributed to sleep deprivation, one of the side effects of sleep apnea.

People who get their apnea under control find their blood pressures lower and they are able to lose weight when once it was impossible no matter how hard they tried. Their work performance dramatically improves and their short term memory increases.

One of the most dangerous side effects of sleep apnea is the increased risk of car accidents. Studies have shown that driving tired is just as dangerous, if not more so, than driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Even if the sleep deprived person manages to stay awake while driving, their reaction times are decreased and judgment is impaired.

Cardiac issues have also been linked to lack of quality sleep. Without proper rest, the body doesn't have down time to recuperate. The work of trying to breathe causes the pulse to speed up and the blood pressure to rise.

The sympathetic nervous system (SNS) is responsible for the fight or flight response. Noradrenaline is released in response to external stimulus. It gives the body a burst of energy by constricting blood vessels which in turn raises blood pressure.

Studies (New England Journal of Medicine 2005, Mayo Clinic) have found that in patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) there are more incidences of SNS activity even during waking hours. The body has less relaxation time to recover from the SNS activity.

This puts a strain on the blood vessels causing heart disease and stroke. This sleep apnea side effect can lead to arrhythmias and death. It has been found that OSA sufferers have enlarged hearts, but after six months of treatment with CPAP, the hearts of patients improved in size and function.

People with sleep apnea are also at a higher risk of cardiac arrest in the night time hours. The time frame most associated with cardiac arrest in the general population is right after waking up until around noon. It is believed this is because the heart is most vulnerable right after prolonged rest.

With sleep apnea patients, that time was reversed and over 50% of patients suffering cardiac arrest died between 10pm and 6am. It is thought that the decrease in oxygen levels and increase in carbon dioxide levels that apnea patients experience is responsible.

Sleep apnea affects the brain's ability to function properly. Lack of sleep decreases cognitive learning, promotes short term memory loss, and impairs judgmental reasoning. Sufferers find simple work tasks difficult. They may receive bad work performances, and might even be fired.

These symptoms can be so devastating in some that it is considered a Federal Social Security disability.

Obesity has been linked to sleep deprivation. Two hormones that regulate when we eat and how much we eat have been found to be out of balance in patients with sleep apnea. These hormones combined with the lack of energy to exercise results in weight gain.

Sleep apnea doesn't just affect a person's sleep, it affects their whole life and being. Personalities are altered and health is put at risk. Sleep apnea side effects are dangerous and life threatening. If a person is thought to have a sleep disorder, it is imperative they seek help immediately.
About the Author
If you think you or a loved one is suffering from the symptoms of sleep apnea or any of the side effects of sleep apnea, learn more by visiting http://www.SleepApneaOSA.com
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