According to Dr. Amie Stringfellow, a Board-Certified Sleep Physician, “Sleep Apnea is a very serious condition…There have been a few instances of deaths attributed to Sleep Apnea, but these cases are pretty rare.”
Although it’s rare for this condition to be the actual cause of death, it’s important to note that this condition can cause or exacerbate other health conditions that may lead to death, which is why the Sleep Apnea death rate is higher than that of the general population. According to a study done by the Wisconsin Sleep Cohort, untreated Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) increases the risk of death.
What’s the Risk of Death From Sleep Apnea?
Researchers have found that severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea has the potential to raise your risk of dying early by as much as 46%. If you leave this condition untreated, you have a higher risk of a heart attack. Sleep Apnea also increases your risk of having a stroke.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, Sleep Apnea has the potential to result in sudden death due to abnormal heart rhythms. The condition may lower your oxygen levels during sleep, activate your fight-or-flight response, and then change the pressure in your chest when your upper airway closes, which can stress your heart.
Untreated Sleep Apnea and Heart Attacks
Multiple studies have shown a link between Sleep Apnea and sudden cardiac death. One five-year study found that OSA raised the risk of sudden cardiac death, particularly when oxygen saturation levels fell below 78%. Researchers also found that individuals with Obstructive Sleep Apnea have more than 2.5 times the risk of experiencing sudden cardiac death between the hours of 12 a.m. and 6 a.m. compared to those without the condition.
Health Implications of Untreated Sleep Apnea
It’s the health consequences of untreated Sleep Apnea that can have such a significant impact on your personal health and increase your risk of dying. Just a few of the health dangers of Sleep Apnea include:
- High Blood Pressure– OSA is not only a risk factor for developing high blood pressure, but if you already have it, it can also make it worse.
- Daytime Fatigue – Repeatedly awakening at night can result in daytime fatigue and drowsiness. Not only can this make it difficult to concentrate and make it through your day, but it also increases your risk of having workplace and motor vehicle accidents, which could take your life or the life of someone else.
- Type 2 Diabetes– Researchers have investigated the link between Sleep Apnea and type 2 diabetes, finding that patients with Sleep Apnea were over two-and-a-half times more likely to end up with type 2 diabetes. The more severe their condition, the higher their risk of diabetes.
- Weight Gain – While being overweight increases your chances of developing Sleep Apnea, having the condition makes it tougher to lose weight. Feeling tired all the time from not sleeping well can result in an increase in the hormone ghrelin, making you crave sweets and carbs, which can cause weight gain.
- Heart Disease– Evidence indicates that Sleep Apnea may be a risk factor for angina pectoris or future heart attacks, particularly in middle-aged men.
- Stroke– Not only is OSA a risk factor for stroke, but recovery after having a stroke may also be delayed in patients with this condition.
- Metabolic Syndrome – Many patients who have Sleep Apnea end up with metabolic syndrome, which includes an increased waist circumference, high blood sugars, high blood pressure, and abnormal cholesterol levels. Metabolic syndrome has been linked to a higher risk of developing heart disease.
- Pregnancy Complications– Extra weight gain during a woman’s third trimester of pregnancy can increase her risk of developing Sleep Apnea. Researchers found that pregnant women with Sleep Apnea had a higher risk of developing gestational diabetes and more likely to develop pregnancy-induced high blood pressure.
Treating Sleep Apnea Improves Quality of Life
While Sleep Apnea comes with many dangers, you can reduce the dangers of Sleep Apnea and improve your overall quality of life by treating it appropriately with a CPAP machine. In fact, studies show that the risk of Sleep Apnea death goes down to that of the general population when it’s treated.
Along with reducing your risk of death from Sleep Apnea, CPAP therapy offers many other benefits. If you have other disorders, such as diabetes, depression, or high blood pressure, treating OSA can help you better control those. Are you experiencing low libido? Treating Sleep Apnea with CPAP therapy may result in improved sexual function, giving your intimate relationship a boost.
Regularly using your CPAP machine will also help you feel refreshed and energized in the morning after a good night of rest. Good sleep is a crucial component to good health, allowing your brain and body to rest and recover from daily stress, and CPAP therapy ensures you get that quality sleep you need.
Can you die from Sleep Apnea? Technically, yes, Sleep Apnea can result in health problems that increase your risk of death. However, you don’t have to accept that higher risk of dying early. By treating OSA with CPAP therapy, it’s possible to reduce your risk of early death, enjoy better sleep, and improve your overall health and quality of life.
Are you ready to find out more about Sleep Apnea and the benefits of CPAP therapy? To learn more about Sleep Apnea and how CPAP treatment can help, along with enjoying significant savings on equipment, sign up for the CPAP.com newsletter today.
David Repasky has been using CPAP treatment since 2017 and has first-hand experience with what it’s like to live with Sleep Apnea. He brings the patient’s perspective to the CPAP.com blog and has received formal training in CPAP machines, masks, and equipment.