Sleep apnea is a serious, potentially life-threatening condition that is far more common than generally understood. Cardinal symptoms are loud snoring, breathing pauses during sleep and daytime sleepiness. Sleep apnea occurs in all age groups and both genders. It is more common in men, although it may be underdiagnosed in women and young African-Americans. It is estimated that as many as 18 million Americans have sleep apnea.
Early recognition and treatment of sleep apnea is important, as it may be associated with:
High blood pressure
Increased risk of motor vehicle and work accidents
Susan Redline, MD, Associate Clinical Director of the Sleep Disorders Service at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, discusses sleep apnea, a sleep disorder that is caused when the throat collapses, disrupting oxygen levels to the brain.