What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is when the person has breathing pauses whilst they are sleeping and
that makes the oxygen and carbon dioxide levels dangerously low in their blood.
It is a serious, potentially life-threatening condition that is far more common than generally
Sleep apnea occurs in all age groups and both genders. It is more common in men, although it may be
under-diagnosed in women and young African-Americans. It is estimated that as many as 18 million Americans have
Early recognition and treatment of sleep apnea is important, as it may be associated with:
-high blood pressure
What are the different types of sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a breathing disorder characterized by brief interruptions of breathing during sleep. There
are two types of sleep apnea:
central - occurs when the brain fails to send the appropriate signals to the muscles to initiate breathing.
Central sleep apnea is less common than obstructive sleep apnea.
obstructive - occurs when air cannot flow into or out of the person's nose or mouth although efforts to breathe
Who is affected by sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea seems to run in some families, suggesting a possible genetic basis. People most likely to have
ordevelop sleep apnea include those who:
-have high blood pressure.
-have some physical abnormality in the nose, throat, or other parts of the upper airway.
-Use of alcohol and sleeping pills increases the frequency and duration of breathing pauses in people with
What are the characteristics of sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is characterized by a number of involuntary breathing pauses or "apneic events" during a single
night's sleep - may be as many as 20 to 30 or more events per hour.
These events are almost always accompanied by snoring between apnea episodes (although not everyone who
snores has sleep apnea).
Sleep apnea may also be characterized by choking sensations. The frequent interruptions of deep, restorative
sleep often lead to early morning headaches and excessive daytime sleepiness.
During the apneic event, the person is unable to breathe in oxygen and to exhale carbon
dioxide, resulting in low levels of oxygen and increased levels of carbon dioxide in the blood.