How Can You Die Of Sleep Apnea?

Lack of oxygen to the brain and/or heart, which can result in a heart attack or stroke, is the most common reason  people die from sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea is not to be taken lightly. It is one of the world’s most renowned silent killers in two aspects. One, it is the one of the largest undiagnosed conditions in the world. All studies are only guesses to how many people actually have it.

There are millions of people who do not know they have, or choose not to treat sleep apnea, and have shorter lifespans as a result. Two, it can cause death in the night hours, while you thought you were sleeping silently.

I’m Aaron, sleep expert. This article is not meant to scare you, but if it scares you into seeking treatment for you or a loved one, then that is a win for life and well-being!

How can someone die from sleep apnea?

When left untreated, people with sleep apnea may find themselves dealing with chronic health conditions such as diabetes, stroke, heart failure, hypertension, thyroid disease, abnormal heart rhythm, and even cognitive impairment due to changes in vascular function and neurological functioning caused by airway obstruction.

Ultimately, all these conditions are a result of lack of oxygen to the brain and heart over time which eventually results in death. It is therefore important for those who suffer from this disorder to be aware of its potentially serious consequences if not addressed through medical intervention or lifestyle changes such as weight loss, quitting smoking and getting proper rest at night.

Can sleep apnea cause sudden death?

Yes, Jenna Rhoads R.N. says that sleep apnea can cause immediate death during an apneic episode.  Due to lack of oxygen, tissue begins to die in the brain and/or heart which results in a fatal heart attack or stroke while you are asleep.

The Cleveland Clinic also backs this report by saying it can cause sudden cardiac arrest. This means your heart completely stops while you are asleep and no one is around to resuscitate you.

In rare cases, a person’s breathing may not restart after a pause due to their sleep apnea and death can occur suddenly as a result. This risk is higher in people who are at the age of 60 and over and have severe sleep apnea.

However, according to sleep specialist Chad Denman at Sleep Cycle Center, he says that more than anything, it is because the increase of other health complications that arise as a result. Though, he does say for sure that death and sleep apnea are directly related.

How often do people die from sleep apnea?

People who have obstructive sleep apnea (osa), have a 30% more chance of having a heart attack, stroke, and/or premature death with it peaking around the age of 55.

There have been more studies completed and they show that when having these breathing episodes during the night, certain heart stressors begin to occur. These stressors are said to put your heart out of rhythm.

These are:

  • Chest Pressure Changes Due to Blockage
  • Fight-or-Flight occurs
  • Oxygen Levels Go Down

As you can probably imagine, having an abnormal heart rhythm is not healthy, and over time, can cause heart failure.

According the the American Sleep Association, around 38,000 people die each year from heart disease as a result of sleep apnea.

The Good News

The scare is over! Sleep Apnea can be treated! As you may know, CPAP (continual positive airway pressure) is the most common treatment. People who use this treatment usually live long, normal, healthy lives.

Also, it may not be as bad as you think. Studies have also shown that people with mild sleep apnea have been cured by implementing lifestyle changes.

You are not alone. The number of people who currently suffer from sleep apnea is astounding. The most important thing is if you suspect, then act!

Call your family doctor and have them refer you to a sleep specialist to get a sleep study scheduled.