Researchers have extensively studied sleep apnea’s ties to a wide range of medical conditions. From diabetes to cardiovascular disease, sleep apnea can exacerbate a wide range of health issues.
And what’s the overall effect of sleep apnea on our lifespan? Understandably, it’s pretty significant.
The number of people who have sleep apnea has steadily increased over the past few decades, and doctors and researchers have found that in addition to the myriad of short-term medical issues that sleep apnea causes, it also reduces our overall lifespan.
And if you pause and think about how many medical conditions are tied to sleep apnea, this connection certainly makes sense.
It Aggravates Cardiovascular and Neurodegenerative Diseases
For one thing, sleep apnea can aggravate several cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases. For another, sleep apnea is tied to an increased risk of obesity and diabetes, which can have big impacts on our heart health in a myriad of ways.
Simply put, when you look at the numbers, the lack of oxygen to the brain and the added pressure on the heart that naturally accompanies sleep apnea can increase risks of health problems across the board.
Studies have found that people who suffer from sleep apnea also have the following increased risks for health issues:
- A 40% higher risk of suffering from high blood pressure
- A 34% higher risk of having a heart attack
- A 90% risk of suffering from hypertension
- A 67% higher risk of having a stroke
It Impacts Your Overall Lifespan
What’s the bottom line? Having sleep apnea can greatly affect your overall lifespan.
In fact, a study released by Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland found that severe sleep apnea increases the risk of an early death by 46%.
The study, which examined 6,400 men and women for a period of eight years, found that the subjects who had been diagnosed with severe sleep apnea were two times more likely to die from any health cause than those who had no sleeping problems whatsoever.
The link between sleep apnea and a shortened lifespan is a jarring correlation to be sure, but the good news is that this damage to your health can be reversed.
Many doctors and researchers attest that the hardest aspect of treating sleep apnea is diagnosing it, to begin with. Many people who have sleep apnea are unaware that they have the condition, and folks can go untreated for years before seeking treatment.
It Can be Minimized
But once you do start to address your sleep apnea, the pressure on your heart and brain is minimized. As a result, your risk for heart-related diseases, high blood pressure and a variety of other health conditions that shorten a lifespan naturally go down.
Eventually, as sleep apnea is treated, the risks for these issues level out, so that they are roughly the same as people who have never had sleep-related problems at all.
So get tested and diagnosed, and get treatment if you think there is an issue with your sleep. Vigilance goes a long way in ensuring that sleep apnea can be treated, and once you get help, you can look forward to many healthy years of restful living to come.
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