Before you get some shut eye, we want to bring to your attention a common problem a lot of you have at night. 12 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea. It's as common as adult diabetes but there are far more serious consequences than a sleepless night.
How many of you hear snoring all night long? A lot of people snore, but if you wake up exhausted, are fatigued throughout the day, fall asleep at the wheel and your work performance has suffered you may have sleep apnea.
Avera Pulmonologist Dr. Brian Hurley says, "So a person may be a heavy snorer then in the deeper parts of the sleep they stop breathing. In those pauses the chest usually keeps moving because no airflow occurs and then comes the arousal (he demonstrated a sound like a loud gagging snore)"
That's when you would want to catch some zzz's in one of the six monitored bedrooms at the Avera McKennan Sleep Diagnostic Center. Registered Sleep Technician Darla Klinger was reviewing a patients sleep study who stopped breathing hundreds of times in the night.
If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea you will be treated with a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) mask that covers your nose. You'll be hooked up to an oxygen compressor to help you breath through out the night. But if you breath through your mouth, you'll have to wear a contraption that covers both your mouth and nose and is more cumbersome.
Dr. Hurley says, " Things have changed. Years ago sleep apnea was about the noise. It bothered the significant other, but in the last few years it's all about stroke risk and heart risk and it's really changed the concern about memory , driving problems, accidents. It's 180 degrees different and a very important health related problem. None of us wants to have a stroke of worsen our heart problem or high blood pressure."
Dr. Tom Isaacson, a Cardiologist with North Central Heart says, "The one thing we do know about sleep apnea is when a patient gains weight they are potentially more likely to have sleep apnea. When they gain weight they are more likely to have high blood pressure and that can cause rhythm trouble or what we call atrial fibrillation. So it's all connected.
Both specialists say sleep apnea doesn't necessarily mean you will have a stroke or heart attack, but getting checked to see if you are at risk should help you sleep better.
Dr. Hurley says 60% of patients who suffered strokes will have sleep related problems. A third with heart disease will have a sleep disorder.