Sleep Apnea, a breathing disorder that occurs during sleep. Is it Dangerous?

Sleep Apnea is a sleep disorder that causes a person's breathing to stop temporarily several times while sleeping. This condition is characterized by snoring during sleep accompanied by stopping breathing and sometimes still feeling sleepy even though you have slept for a long time. The term apnea in sleep apnea means that breathing stops or stops breathing during sleep. Sleep apnea sufferers can stop breathing for at least 10 seconds and repeat this up to dozens of times during sleep.

Sleep Apnea is caused by several factors, such as age which affects muscle strength in the upper respiratory tract, excess body weight, gender where men are more likely to suffer from sleep anea than women, and lifestyle such as smoking and drinking alcohol. So, is Sleep Apnea dangerous?

Types of Sleep Apnea

There are 3 types of sleep apnea which are divided based on the cause, namely:

  1. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)
    Obstructive Sleep Apnea or better known as OSA is the most common and common type of sleep apnea. OSA is caused by the fall of soft tissue such as the tongue and tonsils and blocking the upper airway so that breathing stops because air cannot enter the lungs.

  2. Central Sleep Apnea (CSA)
    Central Sleep Apnea or more commonly called CSA, is a type of sleep apnea that is less common than OSA. This type of sleep apnea occurs when the brain fails to signal the body to breathe. As a result, the body stops breathing even though there is no obstruction in the throat.
  1. Mixed Sleep Apnea
    Mixed Sleep Apnea, is a combination of OSA and CSA. MSA sufferers can experience some sleep disorders accompanied by OSA and other parts CSA which also occurs repeatedly during sleep

Sleep Apnea Symptoms

In many cases, sufferers do not realize they are experiencing symptoms of sleep apnea. These symptoms are actually noticed by people who sleep in the same room as the sufferer.

Some common symptoms that appear when sleep apnea sufferers are sleeping are:

  • Loud snoring.
  • Stopped breathing which is often noticed by other people.
  • Gasping in sleep.
  • Like choking while sleeping or coughing while sleeping after snoring loudly and stopping breathing.
  • Waking up from sleep with a dry mouth or sore throat.
  • Headache when waking up.
  • Difficulty maintaining sleep.
  • Sleepy during the day.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Irritability, irritability.

Apart from that, you also have to be careful because Obstructive Sleep Apnea can cause memory loss.

Dangers of Sleep Apnea

In fact, sleep apnea can not only disrupt a person's sleep quality, but can also cause various serious health complications. Following are some of the dangers associated with sleep apnea:

  1. Heart disease
    Sleep apnea has been closely linked to various cardiovascular diseases. These include coronary heart disease, which is a common cause of heart attacks, as well as arrhythmias, which are heart rhythm abnormalities that can increase the risk of stroke and heart failure. Sleep apnea can also cause hypertension (high blood pressure), which is a major risk factor for heart disease. Imperfections in the flow of oxygen to the heart and brain during periods of apnea can cause an increase in blood pressure and disrupt overall heart function.

  2. Strokes
    The breathing disorders that occur during sleep apnea can cause a decrease in blood flow to the brain. This can increase the risk of ischemic stroke, which is caused by blocked arteries in the brain, or hemorrhagic stroke, which is caused by bleeding in the brain. This risk is especially high in individuals with untreated sleep apnea and other risk factors for vascular disease.

  3. Hypertension
    Sleep apnea is often associated with hypertension or high blood pressure. Period apnea causes the body to respond by releasing stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, which can significantly increase blood pressure. Uncontrolled hypertension can damage arteries and increase the risk of heart attack, stroke and other organ damage

  4. Metabolic Disorders
    Sleep apnea has been linked to insulin resistance, which is an early stage in the development of type 2 diabetes. Decreased blood oxygen levels and the stress caused by apnea can disrupt blood sugar regulation and the body's metabolism. In addition, sleep apnea can also cause lipid metabolism disorders, which can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.

  5. Cognitive Difficulties
    Lack of quality sleep due to sleep apnea can have a significant impact on a person's cognitive function. Sleep disturbances that occur repeatedly, such as stopping breathing during sleep apnea, can disrupt normal sleep cycles, especially the REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep phase which is important for memory consolidation and information processing. As a result, those suffering from sleep apnea often experience difficulty concentrating, memory loss and confusion. Their ability to solve problems, make decisions, and carry out daily tasks can also be affected. In some cases, these symptoms can reach significant levels and disrupt productivity and overall quality of life.

  6. Sudden Death During Sleep
    Although rare, untreated sleep apnea can cause serious complications, including sudden death during sleep. This condition is known as sudden death syndrome (SIDS ) or sometimes called "sleep death". In individuals with severe sleep apnea, repeated stops of breathing during sleep can disrupt the oxygen supply to the brain and other vital organs. This can cause cardiac arrhythmia or fatal heart failure. Although these incidents are very rare, the risk is increased in individuals with untreated sleep apnea and other risk factors, such as coronary heart disease or hypertension.

With the serious risks associated with sleep apnea, it is important for individuals experiencing symptoms to seek appropriate diagnosis and treatment. Ignoring sleep apnea can increase the risk of serious health complications, including heart disease, stroke, metabolic disorders, and even sudden death during sleep. Therefore, understanding and paying attention to this condition is an important step in maintaining optimal health and quality of life.

Article written by dr. Lanny Swandajany Tanudjaja, RPSGT (Sleep Clinic, EMC Tangerang Hospital).