Sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) conditions, including sleep apnoea, aren't often thought of as being a significant health issue, but they are. In fact, the findings of an 18-year study found that participants with SDB were associated with a much higher chance of mortality compared to the general population.
The precise factors behind what causes this increased risk of death have not yet been fully explored, but converging research has shined a light on associations between SDB and several potentially fatal conditions, including the four listed below.
Diabetes has many risk factors, and it can lead to anything from a lack of energy to the loss of a limb; it can also lead to death. One study showed that people with SBD are much more likely to have Type II diabetes, even with other factors, such as age, activity level and diet completely removed from consideration.
Strokes can occur at any time, and they are caused when blood flow to the brain is restricted. Fatalities are common, but even survivors can suffer from restricted mobility or reduced mental functioning. Unfortunately, research has suggested that patients who have a stroke also show an increased tendency toward having SDB. Just like the risk of having a stroke can be decreased by paying attention to things like high blood pressure and high cholesterol, so can the risks of SDB if your're proactive.
3. Heart Disease
Your heart and your brain are the two most vital parts of your body; a stroke can harm your brain, and heart disease can play havoc with your cardiovascular system. Once again, SDB is considered a risk factor. Studies have shown that people with cardiovascular diseases show a prevalence of sleep apnoea. Researchers also concluded that such disorders were 'a common and treatable risk factor'.
4. Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD)
Less well-known than the health issues listed above, but still potentially deadly, NAFLD occurs when the liver becomes enlarged and cells are replaced with scar tissue, something that can lead to cirrhosis, liver cancer or even end-stage liver failure. Studies have demonstrated that those with obstructive sleep apnoea were more likely to develop the condition, possibly due to oxygen deprivation during sleep.
With potential complications so serious, it is absolutely imperative that you have yourself tested if you think you might suffer from SDB. The only way to know for sure is to participate in sleep studies, so contact a medical professional as soon as possible to arrange one.