Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome (OSAS) is a fairly common condition that is characterized by cessation of breathing while sleeping. If left undiagnosed and untreated, it can have serious complications in our health. Below, the eight most common and important complications of sleep apnea syndrome are briefly described:
1. Arterial Hypertension
Many studies have shown that arterial hypertension is associated with the severity of OSAS. That is, the more apneas someone has during sleep, the more likely is that he will have high blood pressure. This also applies even to children who suffer from sleep apnea syndrome.
2. Heart problems
It is well known that heart disease is the leading cause of death in developed countries. Sleep apnea syndrome is a strong risk factor for heart rhythm disorders, heart disease, heart attack and heart failure. Even the shape of the heart changes over time, in a subject suffering from OSAS and not receiving treatment.
A stroke happens when the blood going to the brain has a reduced or intermittent flow. Many studies have shown that sleep apnea is an independent risk factor for stroke.
4. Brain malfunction
It is now clear that Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome predisposes in the long term to brain damage. It affects structures associated with memory, mood and ability to concentrate.
Depression is common in people suffering from OSAS. It is more common in patients with apnea than in the general population. Even mild OSAS is associated with depression. Of course, the more serious the OSAS, the greater the risk of developing depression.
Sleep apnea syndrome is associated with impaired glucose resistance and pro diabetes. Type II diabetes occurs when the body is unable to use insulin effectively. Investigations have shown that OSA may predispose to the occurrence of diabetes mellitus.
Obesity is a leading risk factor for OSAS. Conversely, however, it was found that OSAS predisposes to the onset and maintenance of obesity. This is because apneas fragment sleep, so the individual’s activity during the day is also reduced due to a feeling of tiredness and sleepiness. Furthermore, the metabolism of the patient is disturbed. OSAS is associated with abnormal levels of the hormones that are responsible for the regulation of appetite, satiety and food intake.
People with obstructive sleep apnea are at a generally greater risk of death compared to healthy individuals. The risk is higher with more severe forms of OSAS left untreated.
Is there any hope for people with Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome?
If they receive the right assessment and treatment by a Sleep Specialist, research found that all the the eight aforementioned factors get reduced to levels almost identical to those of the general population.