Sleep Apnea in Men Leads to Heart Disease, Possible Death
Sleep Apnea goes untreated in many sufferers because they believe it to be an inconvenience, not an actual health risk factor. But quite the opposite is true. Men who suffer from apnea are two thirds more likely to have a heart attack, and the risk of mortality is even greater in those with severe obstructive sleep apnea.
Coronary heart disease risk jumpy 68% in men under 70 who suffer from sleep apnea. Men over 70 and women are not at increased risk. The study was published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.
Though there have been many studies of apnea patients, this is the largest one to date. The Boston University School of Medicine studied 1,927 men and 2,495 women 40 and older who had no cardiovascular problems. Of those 3,000 some odd participants, 24% of the men and 11% of women had sleep apnea. Neither men nor women were being treated for their apnea. The researchers, led by Dr. Daniel J. Gottlieb, found that when all risk factors were removed from the male test group (ages 40-70), men that suffered at least 30 apnea episodes per hour were 68% more likely to suffer a heart attack, need to have a coronary artery opened, or die of heart disease within the 8.7 year follow up period. Though researchers could not conclusively say why, the men were 58% more likely to suffer heart failure than the women. This statistic is not surprising, though, as the incidence of apnea in women is significantly lower than in men.
What does this mean for you?
It means that you should do everything you can to get your sleep apnea under control. If your apnea is caused by obesity, perhaps this is the wake-up call you need to change your diet and lifestyle. If you think you suffer from the disorder, or the closing of breathing passageways while asleep, see your physician. Many cases of obstructive sleep apnea go untreated because they are never reported in the first place.