Visceral Adiposity and Obstructive Sleep Apnea

April 26, 2021
Avatar for Kelley MingusKelley Mingus

A new study that measured levels of something called visceral adiposity may explain why you have sleep apnea. Visceral adiposity is body fat, but not the body fat you typically think of when you think of body fat. It’s not necessarily the fat you see, but the fat that wraps itself around your internal organs. In fact, even if you may not look overweight or obese, you may still have visceral adiposity. Visceral adiposity is usually located in the abdomen, but deeper inside, so, not the belly fat we sometimes see when we go to button our jeans. Because of this, we may not realize we have visceral adiposity, and may not be able to lose it as easily, either.

Now, a research study out of Peking University First Hospital has discovered that this type of body fat could be largely responsible for obstructive sleep apnea in non-elderly patients, and it could be causing your body a lot more harm than you think. The fact that these results were found in the non-elderly is a red flag that sleep apnea should be taken seriously in all age groups, even those with lower instances of obstructive sleep apnea.

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the affected person stops and restarts breathing throughout the night, due to an obstructed airway. This airway blockage also causes gasps for breath and snoring, and can also cause waking problems including cognitive impairment, depression, and worsening cases of diabetes, heart conditions, some cancers, Alzheimer’s Disease, and sleep apnea.

While the solution to this may not be an easy one, the good news is that the researchers in the study believe it should open some doors to expanding sleep apnea treatment for non-elderly patients. This could lead to more diagnoses and help get treatment to patients who may not otherwise realize they needed it- potentially saving their lives.

If you don’t fit into the typical obstructive sleep apnea demographic (older, obese, smoker) but feel as though you could have sleep apnea, speak to Dr. Mingus or your physician about scheduling a sleep study today. There are treatment options available for sleep apnea, including sleep orthotics, which are a safe, comfortable way to help prop your airway open while you sleep.