Sleep Apnea Is a Major Health Concern

January 25,2017

You have probably seen pictures of a sleep apnea patient wearing a mask that is right out of Top Gun. In part, that is because both a jet fighter pilot and someone who suffers from obstructive sleep apnea are not able to take in enough air without the mask. It is estimated that the sleep apnea affects 10 to 15 percent of people living in the United States. Recently, primary care physician asked the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force to review evidence and make recommendations on whether they should be screening all adults to identify and treat patients suffering with the chronic medical condition.


Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when a person stops breathing numerous times during the night. Unfortunately, most people who suffer with the disorder do not know they have it. Often it is first noticed by bed partner complaining about the person's snoring that results from collapsed airways. This typically leads to short, shallow breathing with the person pausing to hold their breath. Pauses can last from a few seconds to minutes and can occur every few minutes.


Untreated sleep apnea can increase a person's risk for:

  • Obesity (many sufferers are already overweight)
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Heart Attack and Stroke
  • Arrhythmias or Irregular Heartbeats
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Depression or Worsening of ADHD
  • Headaches and Fatigue

Although the Task Force took a neutral position on screening patients without symptoms of sleep apnea, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine still recommends that anyone in a high-risk group should be screened with or without symptoms. This would include anyone who is obese, has heart problems, has treatment-resistant high blood pressure, has suffered a stroke or is being treated for Type 2 Diabetes. Symptoms of sleep apnea include daytime sleepiness, nighttime snoring, insomnia, fatigue-related issues and problems concentrating. If you are a loved one, suffers from one or more of the symptoms or fall in the "high risk" group, contact either PrimeMed location to schedule an appointment with a board-certified primary care physician.