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Death rate triples for sleep apnea sufferers
Source: University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health

MADISON - A continuing study of sleep problems in the general population shows some alarming findings: over an 18-year period, people with severe, untreated sleep apnea died a rate more than three times that of those without apnea.

Sleep apnea, a condition of repeated episodes of breathing pauses during sleep, is measured by the number of complete or partial halts in breathing per hour of sleep. In a paper published in the August issue of SLEEP, researchers found that the higher the number of breathing pauses, the greater the risk of death.

The conclusion comes from a study led by University of Wisconsin-Madison epidemiologist Terry Young, PhD, of the School of Medicine and Public Health.

"We have been studying the effects of sleep apnea in the Wisconsin Sleep Cohort for more than a decade and have reported links between sleep apnea and hypertension, stroke and depression," said Young, a professor in the department of population health sciences at UW-Madison.

"However, our new findings of a strong and significant decrease in survival with severe, untreated sleep apnea show most dramatically the serious health risk sleep apnea poses."

In addition, Young and her co-authors found the risk of cardiovascular death was strikingly high for participants with severe sleep apnea who had not reported being treated for it. People who had 30 or more breathing pauses per hour of sleep, compared to those who had fewer than five, had five times the risk of cardiovascular death over the 18-year period.

The good news is that people who reported that they had used continuous positive air pressure therapy (CPAP) for their sleep apnea fared better. After the participants who had reported CPAP treatment were excluded from the analysis, the cardiovascular mortality risk jumped from a three-fold risk to a five-fold increase in death.

Young is principal investigator of the Wisconsin Sleep Cohort Study, a longitudinal, community-based epidemiology study of sleep apnea and other sleep problems. The study, begun in 1989, is based on a random sample of 1,522 Wisconsin state employees. The participants undergo overnight sleep studies that include polysomnography – an all-night recording of sleep and breathing – and many other tests at four-year intervals. The studies are conducted in a specially designed unit at the federally funded UW Institute for Clinical and Transitional Research Center (ICTR).

Based on the results from participants' first polysomnography studies, Young found that 63 people (or four percent of the group) had severe sleep apnea, 20 percent had mild or moderate sleep apnea, and 76 percent had no sleep apnea.

In March 2008, researchers examined state death records and found that about 19 percent of participants with severe sleep apnea had died (12 deaths), compared with about four percent of participants with no sleep apnea (46 deaths).

Participants in the study were not selected because they were patients with known sleep problems. After the testing, researchers contacted participants with severe sleep apnea, and explained the condition, its health risks, and recommended seeing their doctor. Despite this information, most failed to seek diagnosis or treatment for their apnea. Furthermore, their primary care doctors may have been unaware of the need for further evaluation of reports of loud, irregular snoring and breathing pauses.

While intervention and treatment for sleep apnea was not part of this study, it is offered at an increasing number of health facilities in the U.S. In Madison, treatment is available at Wisconsin Sleep, located in the University Research Park. Young’s report in the journal, SLEEP, underscores the need for diagnosis of sleep apnea.

"I think many people who wrote off their snoring or apnea as a minor problem will be stunned by these findings, as the sleep-research community is," said Dr. Ruth Benca, medical director of the Wisconsin Sleep Clinic.

"The silver lining is that treatment for sleep apnea seems to help decrease the risk of death and serious complications."

The Wisconsin Sleep Cohort study is funded by the National Institutes of Health.

"In addition to strengthening the evidence that, over time, sleep-disordered breathing (sleep apnea) can increase the risk of death in adults, these findings suggest that treatment may help lessen the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease," noted Michael J. Twery, PhD, director of the NIH National Center on Sleep Disorders Research.
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zonk: very Interesting facts i read it twice,you do come up with a lot of good post
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Sleep Apnea Treatment May Prevent Hypertension
Snoring Linked to Cancer?
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(08-29-2012, 06:26 PM)lonnieb Wrote: zonk: very Interesting facts i read it twice,you do come up with a lot of good post
Thank you. Its important to keep remind ourselves of the dangers of untreated of sleep apnea

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zonk wrote:
Thank you. Its important to keep remind ourselves of the dangers of untreated of sleep apnea


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The American taxpayers have added a lot to medical science, such as cancer research, over the years. That investment might be paying down, as cancer death rates continue to drop, according to a brand new report. However, there are doubters who question its results.
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While interesting, again, alas, like so many things reported in the press, the results are close to meaningless, if only because the sample group is far to small to draw any conclusion whatsoever.

However, there are several meta-studies, drawing from far lager sample groups that support SA as source of life shortening illnesses. So, while this report is sensationalist and well, just wrong in drawing conclusions, there is considerable support for the dangers of long term sleep apnoea.

The problem is that those with sleep apnoea often have other problems that can heavily impact on health and longevity, starting with weight. And as such, every study is a bit tainted in that regard. No study has yet been done exclusively on longevity of people of normal or underweight who have untreated SA from causes other than obesity, still the far most common cause of SA (but by far not the only cause). And we still have no real useful mortality statistics for those who are under CPAP treatment. Mind you, it is pretty new stuff, there are so many variables that would influence the outcome (how long have you been untreated before seeking treatment, the nature of the problem, the weight of the subject, etc) that it will be hard to get meaningful data for at least another twenty years.

I am more than aware of how bad Sa can be for your long term health, and encourage everyone to seek treatment, but I do not like this constant sensationalising and misreporting (this is not directed at you, Zonk, it is directed at the media).
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If you take out all the smokers, drinkers, overweight apneacs there must be a sizable cohort of people who never die of anything :grin:
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(01-22-2014, 07:36 AM)DeepBreathing Wrote: If you take out all the smokers, drinkers, overweight apneacs there must be a sizable cohort of people who never die of anything :grin:
They say in this world nothing can be certain, except death and taxes
Actually one can cheat and avoid paying taxes but one cannot cheat death, death is a certainty for now
But some die sooner than others .... you reap what you sow in his life Dielaughing

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Doctors are slowly becoming more aware of the symptoms of sleep apnea. When I was younger and complained of waking up with a racing heart and headache I was blown off by a referral to a shrink for panic attacks. I continued to have this for many years. Finally recently my GP and my cardiologist noted that I had a slow heart lying down and a very rapid heart walking around. Classic evidence of sleep apnea according to my cardiologist. They finally convinced me to get a sleep study and I do have mild to moderate sleep apnea.
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