We all know that sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that can be very dangerous if left untreated. Marked by snoring, difficulty breathing, and many other comorbid conditions like diabetes, cancer, stroke, depression, and Alzheimer’s disease, sleep apnea is a common condition that affects an estimated 34 percent of middle-aged men and 17 percent of middle-aged women. The most common type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the airway becomes obstructed during sleep, causing the patient to struggle to breathe, especially in the reclined position.
Now, a new study has found that obstructive sleep apnea poses yet another danger to the body: the aging of major arteries and blood vessels, causing what is known as vascular aging. Vascular aging causes these important blood vessels to stiffen and harden.
This comes on the heels of the knowledge that vascular aging contributes to cardiovascular disease. In fact, it is estimated that up to 80 percent of people with cardiovascular disease also suffer from sleep apnea.
The study, which was published in the Journal of the American Heart Association concluded that patients with sleep apnea should receive additional screenings for vascular aging. Furthermore, according to the study, patients with sleep apnea were found to have a 214 percent increase in risk of having an enlarged carotid diameter, a dangerous sign of vascular aging.
Researchers believe the findings of the study could explain why the mortality rate and heart conditions of persons with obstructive sleep apnea are so relatively high among the population.
Whether you have a sleep apnea diagnosis or suspect you could have sleep apnea, speak to your doctor about screening for vascular aging. If you are hesitant to treat your obstructive sleep apnea due to the possibility of being prescribed CPAP therapy, Dr. Mingus has options available to help treat your OSA without the use of CPAP.
A mandibular orthotic device can be custom-crafted to your individual mouth, and fit comfortably in your mouth, somewhat like a retainer or bite guard. This device props your airway open manually, without the use of forced air or machinery, and is generally considered more comfortable than CPAP by users.
To learn more, please contact Dr. Mingus for a consultation.