Doctors and researchers have long understood that obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a dangerous condition.
It links to a wide array of potentially fatal issues. These include heart attack and stroke. And undiagnosed OSA puts a patient at risk for a range of health problems that may take years to develop, but which can severely reduce their lifespan.
And as OSA becomes more common and more studied across the board, researchers are finding out answers to questions that have lingered about this condition for years.
In fact, a recent study may have uncovered the answer to a question posed by both doctors and patients alike. The question is: which is worse, shorter or longer interruptions in breathing during sleep?
On the surface, the answer would initially seem to be that longer interruptions are more dangerous. This is because of the immediate danger of going for long periods of time without taking a breath – which would seem to be an obvious concern.
However, American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine recently published a new study regarding this query. Its authors found that in the long-term, it’s the shorter pauses in breath that can do the most damage.
The Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences at OHSU orchestrated the study, with assistance from colleagues at OHSU and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
The researchers used a common tool for gauging sleep apnea, a measurement called the apnea hypopnea index. It determines the number of times a patient stops breathing during every hour of sleep. This measurement helps diagnose the severity of OSA across the board, and also helps forecast potential risk for other medical conditions.
Looking at this data, the researchers found that the number of breathing interruptions occurring during sleep is important. But the length of these interruptions is instrumental as well for predicting future health issues.
As it turns out, the researchers found that patients who have the shortest apneas were actually 31% more likely to die during the study’s 10-year timeframe of follow-up than those who had longer interruptions in breath.
The new research is fairly groundbreaking. And it’s also valuable information that will help doctors and researchers better understand this condition in the future.
For one thing, it will help to pinpoint treatment recommendations. For another, it will also encourage patients suffering with OSA to get tested and treated – particularly if they are in the shorter apneas group.
With obstructive sleep apnea, the best way a patient can decrease their risks is to seek treatment as soon as possible. This common condition does not go away on its own. And regular treatment will go a long way in mitigating any potential health issues in the long-term.
Have you been concerned about the quality of your sleep, and have experienced side effects such as loud snoring, morning headaches, or daytime fatigue?
It’s time to get your obstructive sleep apnea under control. With modern treatments, it’s easy to address this sleeping disorder on a continual basis. You’ll boost your health and your lifespan in every way.
Contact us so we can help you get back to sleeping and feeling better.