Sleep apnea affects 12 million Americans, according to the National Institutes of Health, and can strike anyone at any age. People with sleep apnea do not breathe properly during sleep. This can lead to daytime sleepiness and may contribute to high blood pressure, heart failure, heart attacks and stroke. Warning signs of sleep apnea include loud snoring, excessive daytime sleepiness, gasping, pauses in breathing, irritability, depression and forgetfulness.
Take this quick yes or no screening quiz to see if sleep apnea may be a health concern for you:
- Do you snore?
- Has your bed partner ever told you that you “stop breathing” or “hold your breath” while you sleep?
- Are you sleepy during your normal waking hours?
- Do you ever feel drowsy when you drive?
- Do you ever have a headache when you wake up?
- Are you overweight or have you recently gained weight?
- Do you have high blood pressure?
If you answered, “Yes” to two or more of these questions, you may have sleep apnea. Contact your healthcare provider.
Undiagnosed and untreated sleep apnea stresses the cardiovascular system and may contribute to:
High blood pressure--people who take blood pressure medication but suffer from sleep apnea may find that their medication does not control their high blood pressure.
- Heart attack
- Irregular heartbeat
- Unexplained sudden death
In addition, sleep apnea causes excessive daytime sleepiness that may result in:
- Automobile accidents
- Lost productivity
- Mood problems/depression