Written By: Jason Smith, RPSGT
Sleep Apnea and Death
I would like to start off by saying I am a huge fan of Discovery channel hit series Deadliest Catch and the personalities of the cast and crew that have entertained us for years. There are not many jobs out there where millions of people enjoy watching you simply do your job and work. I doubt I would be able to get my family to tune in to one episode of me scoring a sleep study or talking CPAP shop with my fellow co-workers (yawn, that was boring just typing it). But it goes without saying that the Deadliest Catch has reeled in many viewers and we witness their struggles and tragedies over the years and the recent passing of Captain Phil Harris and Justin Tennison.
We do want to take the time to offer our deepest condolences go out to the family and friends of Justin Tennison, a Deadliest Catch star on the Time Bandit. Justin passed away tragically in his sleep at the age of 33 as a result of complication related to sleep apnea (thus the reason we are discussing this on a CPAP blog) and we want to shine a light on snoring and sleep apnea, in particular the deadly consequences and health risks it poses.
Every so often sleep apnea pops up on the radar of mainstream journalism and reporting, unfortunately in most cases it’s to report the passing of someone that is famous or in the public eye. Take NFL great Reggie White or the Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia who both passed away as a result of complications directly related to sleep apnea. It is reported that nearly 30% of the U.S. adult population suffers from sleep disordered breathing and roughly 85% of them remain undiagnosed. Yes, you read that correctly, remain undiagnosed. But I do see where CPAP machines are becoming more main stream as they make their ways into bedrooms all across the country. The movie Hall Pass has a scene in which one the stars is sleeping with a ResMed S8 series CPAP machine and Full face CPAP mask. Philips Respironics CPAP machines are popping up in comedy shows like The Office, The League and the HBO hit drama series The Sopranos.
A huge misconception is that ONLY the older and overweight people need a CPAP machine. False, I have friends that are in peak physical condition, mid 30’s and maintain a proper diet and lifestyle, yet I cannot be in the same room with them when we go on golf trip because of the severity of their snoring and witnessed apnea. They too, like many adults refuse to believe that their snoring and sleep apnea could be a potential deadly disease (see the above referenced people if you cannot believe). I will list the below information to help you identify the who, what, when, where and why of sleep apnea.
Warning Signs and Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
- Snoring or witnessed gasping for air while sleeping
- Daytime fatigue
- Waking to extreme morning dry mouth or sore throat
- Frequent night time urination
- Morning headaches
- Moodiness , irritability and short term memory loss
- Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)
- Neck size greater than 17 inches
Different Types of Sleep Apnea
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) – cessation of airflow (at least 10 seconds) in the presence of continued inspiratory effort; cessation of breathing during sleep, due to a mechanical obstruction, such as a semi-collapsed trachea, tongue relaxed to back of the throat, or a large among of tissue in the uvula area.-Basically, your airway collapses and you quit breathing. Treated with CPAP, APAP or BiPAP.
- Central Sleep Apnea (CSA)- absence of airflow and inspiratory effort; apnea caused by irregularity in the brain’s control of breathing. Treated with ASV devices or BiPAP (Bi-Level Therapy).
- Hypopnea-partial airway closure, not as much as an obstructive apnea but still results in disruption to sleep and oxygen desaturation. Treated with CPAP, APAP or BiPAP.
- Complex Sleep Apnea (CompSA)- a combination of central sleep apnea events triggered by the use of CPAP therapy (CPAP induced central sleep apnea). Treated with ASV devices.
- Cheyne-Stokes Respiration (CSR)- breathing pattern typified by regular “crescendo-decrescendo” or waxing and waning fluctuations in respiratory rate and tidal volume. Normally seen in heart failure patients and treated with adaptive pressure support servo-ventilation devices (ASV).
- Snoring-Really? If you are unsure of what snoring is I’m not sure there would be any help for you.
Untreated Sleep Apnea May Lead to :
- Heart Failure
- Type II Diabetes
Sleep Apnea Test Kits
At home sleep apnea test kits allow you sleep in your own bed and monitor the major physiological parameters that may determine if you suffer from sleep apnea or sleep disordered breathing. We offer the testing kit service for the low price of $349.00 (compare that to the thousands a sleep lab may charge you or your insurance). Our test kits are scored by a registered polysomnographic technologist and reviewed by a board certified sleep physician. Unlike some other “internet CPAP sites”, we truly ARE the sleep professionals. You can order a home sleep apnea test kit here!
Sleep Apnea Treatment Options
The only 100% proven effective treatment for sleep apnea is CPAP or Auto CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure), a device that provides pressurized air through tubing into a mask that you wear on your face while you sleep (CPAP mask). This pressurized air provides a pneumatic splint in the airway that allows you to:
- Eliminate snoring
- Keep your oxygen levels above 90%
- Stabilize the airway so that you may exchange air to the lungs
- Allow you to obtain deep stages of sleep with less disruptions (arousal)
- Restore a better quality of life through healthy sleep hygiene