Despite common misconceptions, anyone – regardless of gender, weight or fitness level – can develop obstructive sleep apnea, a life-threatening condition characterized by episodes of complete or partial airway obstruction during sleep. As many as 12 million to 18 million American adults have untreated sleep apnea, and Denver sleep practitioner Dr. Charles Reed, a member of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, recommends the following steps for diagnosis and treatment to significantly improve overall health, mood and productivity.
Be aware of the risk factors:
- Age and weight: Risk of sleep apnea increases between middle and older age and with the amount of excess body weight you carry.
- Gender: Men have a greater likelihood of developing sleep apnea. However, menopause is a risk factor for sleep apnea in women.
- Family history: Risk of sleep apnea is also higher if family members have been diagnosed with sleep apnea.
- Habits: Smoking is another significant risk factor, as well as being a detriment to your overall health.
- Other diseases: Many people don’t realize that they’re in greater danger of developing sleep apnea if they already suffer from other common diseases. Seven in 10 Type 2 diabetics and 30 to 40 percent of adults with hypertension also have obstructive sleep apnea.
Watch for symptoms:
“Not everyone who snores has the disease,” said Dr. Reed. “However, when snoring is paired with choking, gasping or pauses in breathing during sleep, it’s a more likely indicator of sleep apnea.”
There are also several daytime warning signs. Morning headaches, excessive sleepiness, trouble concentrating, memory or learning problems, and general moodiness, irritability or depression can all signal sleep apnea.
Get evaluated and treated:
It’s critical that those exhibiting risk factors or symptoms of sleep apnea be evaluated by a board-certified sleep medicine physician right away.
“Once diagnosed, the recommended treatment for sleep apnea is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy, which provides a steady stream of air through a mask to gently keep your airway open – making it easier to breathe,” said Dr. Reed. “It’s estimated that CPAP therapy reduces the 10-year risk of heart attack by 49 percent and stroke by 31 percent.”
As a sleep specialist, Dr. Reed has the training and expertise to identify the symptoms of sleep apnea and other sleep conditions. A patient who is found to be at risk for OSA will be scheduled for a sleep study. Objective sleep testing provides the data enabling an accurate diagnosis.
“Treating sleep apnea provides all the benefits of improved sleep, including improved memory and cognitive function,” said Dr. Reed. “Clinical evidence also shows that sleep apnea treatment lowers blood pressure – decreasing your risk of cardiovascular disease. Left untreated, sleep apnea may have a serious impact on overall health, even increasing risk of death.”
Dr. Charles Reed is located at 20971 E. Smoky Hill Rd. in Centennial, CO. Patients with loud snoring and symptoms of sleep illness should contact Dr. Reed at (720) 504-3633 to schedule a consultation. More information is available online at www.sleep-denver.com. Dr. Reed works closely with primary care physicians to align treatment with other conditions.