If Hypertension is a ‘silent killer,’ sleep apnea is easily another less-discussed one. Sleep apnea occurs when there are pauses or breaks in a person’s breathing during sleep, preventing air from entering the lungs and forcing the person to wake briefly to start breathing again, before falling back to sleep. This interruption in breathing can happen hundreds of times nightly, resulting in very poor, fragmented sleep quality. It is estimated that over 18 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea. It can affect anyone at any age, however it is most commonly seen in those who are overweight or obese. African Americans and Pacific Islanders are at higher risk than Caucasians – very relevant to our population in Hawai’i.
Long linked to heart disease and sudden death in men, the effects on women of sleep apnea were less clearly defined until now. A study just published in the journal Circulation now shows that women with sleep apnea are at much greater risk of heart failure, heart enlargement, and death from heart failure.
It behooves us to greatly step up our screening for sleep apnea in Oahu’s women at risk! If you are a woman with snoring, headaches, fatigue, concentration and/or memory difficulties and you carry excess weight, we can help you get screened for sleep apnea. Come talk to us in our Kailua office.
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