What is the reason we sleep? There are several believed reasons, but the most important reasons seems to be to allow our minds and bodies to rest and recuperate from our daily activities. So how does Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) affect this process? Among other things, during during restful sleep our bodies have a normal drop in heart rate and blood pressure of about 10%. Think of it as a way that our cardiovascular system gets a much-needed break. In patients with OSA, this normal drop in blood pressure does not occur. In fact, their heart rate and blood pressure actually increase.
When the body senses a drop in oxygen during OSA, hormones are releases causing several physiological changes. In the cardiovascular system, these hormones cause an increase in heart rate and blood pressure, which long term puts the patient at risk for hypertension, arrythmias, and ultimately, heart attack and stroke. These same hormones increase the free sugar present in the blood and can lead to an increased risk of diabetes. These conditions, among others, are what makes Obstructive Sleep Apnea such a scary disease.
It is estimated that as high as 20% of the population has OSA and those with hypertension and cardiovascular disease are at a much higher risk. Because so many potential people are at a risk for OSA, our dental office has partnered with the Cleveland Clinic Sleep Disorders Center to have patients properly tested and diagnosed. If diagnosed, we can look at potential treatments such as oral appliance therapy, which have much higher compliance rates than traditional therapy and are extremely effective. If you suffer during the day from extreme tiredness and have been told that you snore, you could be one of the millions of undiagnosed patients. A quick examination along with a short questionnaire can let you know whether you are at risk. Let us know at your next visit. We look forward to helping as many patients as possible reduce the impact this disease has on their lives.
Author: Dr. Brian Hivick
Great Lakes Dental Arts
8435 Station Street
Mentor, OH 44060