Health Problems Caused by Sleep Apnea

Health Problems Caused by Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a condition in which your breathing stops and starts repeatedly during sleep, disrupting your rest and potentially leading to problems during the day.

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most prevalent type of sleep apnea and occurs when muscles in your throat relax and block airflow. Central sleep apnea, on the other hand, occurs due to an issue with brain signals telling you when and how to breathe.


Obesity is a leading cause of sleep apnea and has been linked to other health problems like high blood pressure and heart disease.

In addition to obesity, other factors may contribute to sleep apnea development such as age and gender. Older adults are at an increased risk for this disorder due to an increased sensitivity in their brain’s sensitive areas (central adiposity).

Obesity can also negatively impact airway function, increasing the likelihood of obstructive sleep apnea. This is because obesity causes increased pharyngeal collapsibility due to mechanical effects and changes in neuromuscular control.

High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a prevalent health issue in the United States and can be caused by many different factors.

Health Problems Caused by Sleep Apnea

Examples include certain chronic conditions like diabetes or kidney disease, birth control pills and medications that constrict arteries. High blood pressure may also be a symptom of another more serious condition known as secondary hypertension.

Healthy individuals typically experience a drop in blood pressure between 10-20% at night, known as “blood pressure dipping”. Unfortunately, those with severe sleep apnea often experience no such pattern and an elevated risk for cardiovascular problems. Furthermore, they may experience an abrupt and noticeable rise in their pulse when they wake up – commonly referred to as the “midnight surge”.

Heart Disease

Heart disease is a group of issues that prevent your body from getting enough blood flow. It affects various organs, tissues and cells in your body.

Heart problems may cause chest pain or discomfort, shortness of breath, or nausea.

Your heart has four valves that open and close to channel blood through it. These can become narrowed (stenosis), leaky (regurgitation or insufficiency), or improperly closed (prolapse).

Damage to a heart valve can compromise its performance, potentially leading to heart attacks or strokes. Furthermore, it may cause your heart to pump less blood than usual – this is known as congestive heart failure.


A stroke occurs when a blood vessel to the brain is blocked by a clot. There are two primary types of stroke: ischemic and hemorrhagic.

Ischemic strokes occur when plaque blocks a blood vessel in or on the brain, preventing blood flow to the affected area of the brain. Hemorrhagic strokes, on the other hand, are more rare and involve bleeding inside of the brain.

Sleep apnea (SDB) can also lead to stroke-like symptoms. SDB occurs when you stop breathing for 10 or more seconds while sleeping, often without warning.

SDB (serious dehydration) can cause a variety of symptoms, such as fatigue, dizziness and headaches. Not only does this increase your risk for stroke but it may also make you more prone to other health issues like heart disease or high blood pressure.


Depression has a variety of negative effects on your body. It may increase the likelihood of sleeping difficulties, making it difficult to get adequate rest.

People suffering from depression are more likely to develop sleep apnea, which interrupts oxygen delivery to your brain. This could lead to complications such as high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the soft tissue in your throat and airway collapses while you are asleep, preventing breathing. You may snore or gasp for air during these episodes and wake up feeling as if you can’t catch a breath.

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