News, trends and information surrounding sleep apnea and sleep health in South Africa.

man sleeping and woman covering her ears

The Long-term Consequences of Obstructive Sleep Apnea.

Obstructive sleep apnea causes a person’s throat to close momentarily during sleep, due to an abnormality in pressure in the back of the throat. When this happens, the brain is alerted to wake up, often multiple times at night, to restart breathing. It also means a person may experience a drop in oxygen levels. And, both of these can have long-term consequences on your health.

Part of the waking up process is a burst of adrenalin which, combined with a drop in oxygen, can put the heart under strain. It’s the reason some people wake up with heart palpitations or a feeling of anxiety. This regular rush of adrenalin can, over time, cause long-term damage to the heart. Initially, it may occur as high blood pressure, which can be present the whole day and night. It’s particularly risky at night, when blood pressure usually drops to protect the heart.

Many different heart conditions have been linked to sleep apnea, including atrial fibrillation, heart attacks, and strokes. If you have more than 20 apneas an hour (moderate sleep apnea, that can mean waking up to 150 times per night) which is untreated, you have more than a 50 percent chance of developing a heart problem in the next seven years.

If you do develop a heart problem but the apnea is still left untreated, the heart problem will also be more difficult to treat. That’s why treating sleep apnea (usually using a nasal CPAP machine) is very important, to reduce the risk of heart disease.

Untreated sleep apnea can also negatively affect metabolic syndrome, diabetes and depression. Patients with late-onset diabetes, for example, are often told to exercise and lose weight in order to improve glucose control. But, if they are tried from their sleep apnea, they may move less and eat more high-calorie food while trying to gain more energy, increasing the severity of both the diabetes and heart disease.

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  • Robert. Treml

    I was diagnosed many years ago with sleep Apnea..
    I have never been able to purchase a cpap machine..
    As i have aged.. This problem has become worse.. I feel like death warned up almost everyday..
    Can anyone help?

    • AIRO Health Care

      Hi Robert Treml, thank you for contacting us. Will you kindly send us an email: or phone: +27 (011) 4630361 so we can get all the necessary details.

  • Glen Lang

    Hi they did the sleep apnea test on me in Hospital in Bloemfontein. The results says i have sleep apnea. U did the rest in 2016 or 2017 and at that time the test results showed that 8 or 9 times in an hour i stop breathing.
    Now on the 26.09.2019 the test shows that in an hour i stop breathing 35 times in an hour.
    I have type 2 diabetes and high blood The problem is now that my medical aid has denied my approval for an APAP machine
    Plz help and give advice.

    • AIRO Health Care

      Hi Glen Lang, thank you for getting in touch with us. Will you kindly send us an email: or phone: +27 (011) 4630361 so we can get all the necessary details and assist you.

  • Norma Bezuidenhout

    My husband of 89 suffers from sleep apnea which he wakes from so violently he wakes me in a panic! He is on various chronic meds (blood pressure and has asthma). What can be done to lessen these attacks.

    • AIRO Health Care

      Hi Norma, thank you for getting in touch with us. Will, you kindly send us an email: or phone: +27 (011) 4630361 so we can get all the necessary details and assist you.

  • Lwazikazi Kupelo

    its almost two years now,it only happens at night when im asleep,i would wake up my heart jumping like its going to come out of my mouth,then it wil beat faintly as if it will just stop,this is threaning my life,two days ago i went to see a doctor after experiencing severe palpitations,my doctor queried sleep apnoea

    • AIRO Health Care

      Hi Lwazi, thank you for contacting us. Will you kindly send us an email: or phone: +27 (011) 4630361 so we can get all the necessary details.

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