Sleep apnea increases the risk of sudden death

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Sleep Health | Sleep Review

A study by researchers at Penn State College of Medicine shows that people with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) are twice as likely to experience sudden death as people without OSA. The researchers also found that OSA increased a person’s risk of developing certain cardiovascular diseases such as high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, and congestive heart failure.

The research team examined more than 42,000 patients worldwide and conducted a systematic review of studies related to sleep apnea that were published through January 2020. The researchers found that people with OSA were at a higher risk of dying suddenly from various causes, including cardiovascular deaths. According to the researchers, this risk increases with age.

“Patients with sleep apnea have shallow or interrupted breathing that disrupts their sleep,” said Anna Ssentongo, Dr. “Our research shows that this condition can be life threatening. Those with OSA had almost twice the risk of sudden death and cardiovascular mortality compared to those without OSA. Future studies are needed to identify treatments and interventions that can optimize survival. “

The results of the study suggest that OSA is linked to several cardiovascular comorbidities, including high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, and congestive heart failure. Patients with OSA experience oxidative stress or a lack of available oxygen for the cells, which can contribute to an imbalance of antioxidants in the body. Over time, this imbalance damages cells and can accelerate the aging process and lead to a range of health problems.

“Obstructive sleep apnea is a common condition that can be fatal,” said co-author John S. Oh, MD, assistant professor in the surgery department at Penn State Health’s Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, in a press release. “This is something that many patients fail to consider when diagnosing the disease, and hopefully our research will focus more attention on its prevention and treatment.”

Co-author Emily Heilbrunn said in a press release: “This study underscores the importance of appropriate preventive measures to reduce the incidence of OSA and OSA-related sudden death. Providing accessible and affordable treatments to populations with OSA can ultimately reduce the negative health outcomes for these people. “

The research team notes that the study had some limitations. The study included data from five continents, but no studies from Africa or Antarctica. The researchers said future research studies should examine the association between OSA and mortality in populations not represented in this study.

Vernon Chinchilli from Penn State College of Medicine and Paddy Ssentongo, MD, PhD, from Penn State Center for Neural Engineering contributed to this research. The researchers do not disclose any conflicts of interest or specific financial support. The study is published in BMJ Open Respiratory Research.

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