Snoring & Apnoea - Scary Facts

Thu, Oct 27, 2011

According to a recent scientific paper published by BUPA:

Snoring arising from the base of the tongue can cause partial or complete airway obstruction due to a collapse of the throat, which is essentially a muscular tunnel. If the muscles relax too much, the walls of the tunnel fall in and this inhibits inspiration (breathing in). There may only be a partial collapse, but the effect nevertheless is that the muscles of breathing have to work harder to drag air into the lungs past this obstruction.

Where complete cessation of breathing occurs the condition is called Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA). {Note: apnoea is spelt ‘apnea’ in the United States and Canada). Cessation of breathing may last anywhere from ten seconds to two minutes. Apnoea patients may experience 30 to 300 such events per night. These episodes often lead to significantly reduced blood oxygen levels.

Obstructive sleep apnoea is graded as mild, moderate or severe. Typically, sleep apneoa is considered mild when the patient has from five to fifteen arousals from sleep (“events”) per hour, moderate when the patient has fifteen to thirty events per hour, and severe when the patient has more than 30 events per hour. Some patients only exhibit apnoea, or the apnoea becomes more severe, during rapid eye movement (“REM”) sleep.

REM sleep occurs when the patient is dreaming and the body suspends itself into a flaccid paralysis, reducing muscle tone to its lowest level. The airway is most susceptible to collapse during REM sleep. Arousal during REM sleep is especially harmful to the patient because it is during REM sleep that the body gains the most significant restorative and regenerative benefits from sleep. Without REM sleep the person will not feel refreshed from the sleep period and is subject to the many medical consequences of sleep deprivation.

OSA can lead to severe fatigue at best and sudden death at worst. If you think you have this disorder, you must seek treatment from a medical professional.

According to various scientific studies:

  • An individual with untreated ‘obstructive sleep apnoea’ (OSA) is up to 4 times more likely to have a stroke and 3 times more likely to have heart disease. (National Sleep Foundation).

  • Patients with untreated apnoea run a 3% risk of stroke and heart attack. Treatment with CPAP was found to lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of stroke by 20% (The Lancet 2002; 359: 204-210)

  • About one half of patients who have essential hypertension (high blood pressure) have obstructive sleep apnoea, and about one half of patients who have obstructive sleep apnoea have essential hypertension. (Am Fam Physician 2002;65:229-36)

  • People suffering from sleep apnoea are six times more likely to be involved in a car crash (as a result of drowsiness) than those without sleep disorders. (New England Journal of Medicine, March 18, 1999)

The good news is snoring and apnoea can be treated.  Inexpensively.  And effectively.  Call us today for a free, no-obligation discussion about your situation (this consultation would normally be charged at $35, so call before we are fully booked.  Phone 1300 246 637 today.