Today's Health: Sleep Apnea Linked To Sudden Cardiac Death
Published August 8th, 2013
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Sudden cardiac death kills about 450,000 people annually in the United States.
A new study finds you could be putting yourself at risk while you sleep.
A sleep condition that's already been linked to other health problems could now prove deadly.
If left untreated, sleep apnea can affect everything from your mood and stress level to your blood pressure and heart health.
Now new research shows it may not only be unhealthy, it could also cost you your life.
At 19 years old, Daniel Fortner is the picture of health.
A former soccer player and a trainer at Gainesville Health and Fitness, he eats healthy and gets plenty of exercise.
But for years, something was off.
"Every time I sat down I would fall asleep," Fortner says.
After realizing always being tired was not the norm, Fortner was diagnosed with sleep apnea - a disorder that causes the airway to collapse, blocking the flow of air for anywhere from a few seconds to sometimes even minutes - disrupting restful sleep.
It's more commonly caused by being overweight, but can also happen in patients of a healthy weight.
"I would sleep through my alarms," Fortner says, "I would turn them off and not remember that I'd gone back to sleep."
But new research shows there may be more at risk than just being late for work.
A study published in the American College of Cardiology followed more than 10,000 patients over 15 years and found moderate cases of obstructive sleep apnea can significantly increase a person's risk for sudden cardiac death... an often fatal condition if not immediately treated.
Dr. Jorge Camacho works at the Sleep Disorders Center at North Florida Regional Medical Center and says these results are a significant link.
"The link of obstructive sleep apnea and dying suddenly has not been really associated in such a way until this study came along," he says.
Sleep apnea has already been linked to other cardiovascular diseases, and even problems like diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and dimentia in elderly patients.
"The important thing is that treatment can make a difference," Camacho says.
Something Fortner took to heart, and says with treatment he's turned his quality of life around completely.
"The little things are starting to come back out, i'm not having to force being happy or force a smile on my face," Fortner says.
For more information about sleep apnea, visit: cardiosmart.org
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