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Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is very serious and can cause the following.
1. Excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS)
2. Increases the risk of high blood pressure
3. Diabetes
4. Obesity
5. Leads to higher rates of stroke, arrhythmia, heart attack and even death
6. Awakenings with gasping and choking
7. Fragmented, non-refreshing, light sleep
8. Poor memory
9. Irritability and personality changes
10. Morning headaches
11. GERD (Gastro-esophageal reflux disease)
12. Bruxism (tooth grinding)
13. Night sweats

When OSA causes EDS it can increase a person’s risk for motor vehicle accidents by 15 times. Drowsy driving can be as dangerous as drunk driving. Current legislation requires that commercial drivers get screened and treated for sleep apnea. Many non-commercial drivers are not aware that they even have OSA.

Sleep apnea is linked to snoring. The following facts have been compiled by sleep medicine groups.
1. About 30 million (1 in every 8) Americans snore.
2. Snoring individuals have a higher likelihood of developing sleep apnea.
3. About 18 million Americans have sleep apnea.
4. Men over age 65 have a 28% chance of suffering from sleep apnea.
5. Up to 50% of people who have sleep apnea also suffer from high blood pressure.
6. Sleep apnea increases the risk of stroke and heart attack
7. Day time sleepiness is a side effect of sleep apnea
8. Special dental appliances can improve and often eliminate the effects of sleep apnea
9. Insurance specialists estimate that sleep disorders add about $15.9 billion to healthcare
10. Heavy snoring Significantly increases the risk of carotid atherosclerosis

Sleep apnea is as prevalent as adult diabetes and asthma. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), approximately 18 million Americans, or roughly 20 percent of the U.S. adult population, suffer from sleep apnea.

Approximately 1 in 5 adults has at least mild obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and 1 in 15 adults has OSA of moderate or worse severity, according to a report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Each year, nearly four percent of men and two percent of women over the age of 35 are diagnosed with sleep apnea, according to the NIH. Yet, it is estimated that as many as 90 percent of all cases remain undiagnosed, largely due to the fact that sufferers are unaware that their symptoms are a sign of a serious breathing disorder and that effective sleep apnea treatment is available.

The consequences of obstructive sleep apnea range from disruptive to life-threatening. Disruptive consequences include daytime fatigue, depression, irritability, sexual dysfunction, learning and memory difficulties, and falling asleep while at work, on the phone or driving. Life-threatening consequences include congestive heart failure, stroke, irregular heart rhythms, cardiovascular disease and fatal car accidents.

It is estimated that about one third of all patients with heart failure have obstructive sleep apnea, according to a report in the New England Journal of Medicine. In this clinical study, patients with heart failure that were treated with Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) achieved a noted reduction in systolic blood pressure and an overall improvement in heart function.

According to a recent Mayo Clinic study published in the journal Circulation, a common irregular heartbeat called atrial fibrillation doubles the risk of obstructive sleep apnea indicating that patients with atrial fibrillation should be screened for OSA, particularly those with obesity or high blood pressure, known risk factors.

OSA sufferers are three times more likely to have automobile accidents than non-sufferers. In fact, according to a study conducted by the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, each year, 980 lives could potentially be saved and $11.1 billion in automobile accident costs could be avoided if drivers who suffer from OSA received successful sleep apnea treatment.

The recognized obstructive sleep apnea symptoms include: loud snoring, nocturnal gasping and choking during sleep, excessive daytime sleepiness, morning headaches, memory or learning problems, irritability, lack of concentration, mood swings or personality changes, dry throat upon awakening, witnessed apneas and frequent urination.

Signs that a person may be susceptible for OSA include: loud snoring, being 20 to 30 pounds overweight, having high blood pressure, having a crowded posterior airway, congestion caused by hay fever and other allergies, a short, thick neck, or a family history of sleep apnea.

During an average night’s sleep, an obstructive sleep apnea sufferer may experience 60 apneas an hour, or 400 per night. Data has shown that the risk of long-term mortality increases when patients experience 20 or more apneas per hour.

Studies have shown that the partners of OSA sufferers can lose up to one hour of sleep per night due to their bed partner’s loud snoring and apneas.