If you're like 83 percent of American adults, you drink coffee to boost your energy. While coffee and other caffeinated drinks may temporarily increase energy, they can also cause underlying health problems to go unnoticed. One such health problem is sleep apnea, which disrupts breathing during sleep. If you're suffering from sleep apnea, you have more to worry about than a lack of energy and difficulty breathing while sleeping. Here are four severe health consequences of untreated sleep apnea.
1. Heart Failure
Did you know that sleep apnea increases your odds of suffering from a fatal heart attack? If you have sleep apnea, the changes in your breathing can affect your heart rate. In severe cases, this can lead to atrial fibrillation, which is an irregular heartbeat.
If you're suffering from atrial fibrillation, you will likely feel as if your heart is skipping beats periodically. When this happens, you are at an increased risk of developing heart failure.
2. High Blood Pressure
In addition to affecting heart rate, sleep apnea can affect blood pressure as well. Sleep apnea is linked to high blood pressure, known as hypertension. If left untreated for long enough, hypertension can lead to major health problems, including artery damage and kidney disease.
If you have sleep apnea, monitor your blood pressure regularly to make sure the results are within the normal range. If you find that you're suffering from hypertension, see a doctor as soon as possible.
3. Ischemic Stroke
Another cardiovascular issue linked to sleep apnea is ischemic stroke, which occurs when blood flow to the brain is blocked by a clot. Men suffering from sleep apnea are three times more likely to have an ischemic stroke.
The following are symptoms of ischemic stroke:
- Facial drooping and numbness
- Weakness on one side of the body
- Difficulty speaking
- Blurry vision
If you experience the above symptoms, get help immediately.
Sleep apnea causes more than just cardiovascular problems; the breathing disorder is also linked to dementia. Researchers found that those suffering from sleep apnea are more likely to develop dementia. This is believed to be due to the fact that sleep apnea decreases blood oxygen levels in the brain. With less oxygen, the brain is at risk of developing cognitive problems.
From heart failure to dementia, sleep apnea can have a profound impact on the quality of life for those suffering from the disorder. Fortunately, the disease is treatable. If you believe you are suffering from sleep apnea, ask your dentist about diagnosing and treating this common problem.
For more information, contact a medical professional in your area. There are several types of doctors and professionals that can give advice about sleep apnea, even dentists, like those at Jerry C Hu DDS Family Dentistry LLC.