More than a snore: sleep apnea worsens in the winter, can cause major medical issues
(NC) Sleep apnea – a serious medical condition that can cause severe health issues including heart attack, diabetes and high blood pressure – appears to worsen during the colder winter months, say researchers in Brazil.
According to their study, environmental factors play a role in the severity of sleep apnea, which causes people to momentarily stop breathing multiple times throughout the night. They found that sleep clinic patients who came in during colder months had more nighttime breaks in breathing than those who sought treatment during warmer months.
Similarly, the sleep clinic was more likely to see the most severe cases during the colder months.
Despite the findings, the biggest risk factor for obstructive sleep apnea is still obesity.
For individuals concerned they might be at risk for sleep apnea, there is an online test at www.worldsleepday.respironics.com.
“If the online test shows that you're at risk, it's important to visit a doctor to be properly screened, diagnosed and discuss treatment options,” said Dr. Lee-Chiong, chief medical liaison for Philips Home Healthcare Solutions.
Philips has set a goal to screen one million people over the next five years.
Medical experts recommend two complimentary approaches to combat sleep apnea: lose weight and undergo treatment with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), a non-invasive therapy that works by providing a gentle flow of pressured air through the nose and or mouth.
Sleep apnea affects approximately 860,000 Canadian adults. Obesity is known to increase the likelihood of having sleep apnea, but people of any weight can experience it.
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