Sleep Apnea–What You Need to Know

If you are like many of Americans, you may have wondered about Sleep Apnea. What is it?

It’s the absence of breathing during sleep associated with frequent awakening and often with daytime sleepiness resulting from failure of the respiratory center to stimulate adequate respiration during sleep.

New Orleans Coroner, Dr. Dwight McKenna, says sleep apnea is under-diagnosed because the most common symptoms, like excessive daytime sleepiness or snoring are undervalued by patients.

There are risk factors, experts say:

Structural: craniofacial and upper airway anomalies
Non Structural: smoking, alcohol use or sedative consumption.

While men are at higher risk, postmenopausal women who are not receiving hormone therapy face similar risks. Certain medical conditions, such as , acromegaly, amyloidosis, Cushing syndrome and Down syndrome, have also been associated.

Sleep apnea has also been associated with type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and asthma. Also, resistant hypertension, pulmonary hypertension and recurrent atrial fibrillation following other conditions, such as coronary artery disease or cerebrovascular disease should also be suspected.

Occupation plays a significant role. Sleep fragmentation and daytime sleepiness can lead to workplace and vehicular accidents.

Orleans Parish Coroner, Dr. Dwight McKenna, says if you notice any of these signs, consult a physician.