As many of you know, I had triple bypass heart surgery 7 years ago. All my doctors said at the time, “Guy, you don’t fit the profile of a heart patient. You don’t have family risk factors. You’re not overweight. You don’t smoke. You exercise. You eat well.” New research and a recent diagnosis make me think that undiagnosed sleep apnea was my major risk factor, causing the life-endangering plaque buildup in my arteries.
“Guy, you don’t fit the profile of a heart patient. You don’t have family risk factors. You’re not overweight. You don’t smoke. You exercise. You eat well.”
Our office had already begun screening for sleep apnea approximately 3 years ago because people with sleep apnea grind their teeth in their sleep much more than people who sleep normally. People with sleep apnea wear and break teeth and wear and break crowns. Now we have a new and even more compelling reason to screen for sleep apnea—we want to save lives.
Now we have a new and even more compelling reason to screen for sleep apnea—we want to save lives.
In the last 3 years, I have attended 3 medical conferences about sleep apnea. The most recent 2-day sleep apnea workshop last October was an eye opener! We were updated on the most recent research about sleep apnea:
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) occurs when a person temporarily stops breathing during sleep. In the United States, 40% of people over 40 years old stop breathing enough to snore, and 18% of men and 8% of women have full-blown sleep apnea. The resulting sharp drop in blood oxygen causes acute medical issues, including damage to the lining of arteries that may lead to arterial plaquing.
- People with OSA have a high risk of having heart attacks.
- OSA patients are 23 times more likely to have a heart attack.
- OSA patients are 3 times more likely to have a heart attack than obese patients without OSA.
- OSA patients are more than 2 times as likely to have a heart attack than smokers without OSA.
- Most patients who have OSA also have high blood pressure. Interestingly, when the OSA is treated, high blood pressure may be reduced or resolved, allowing the patient to reduce or eliminate high blood pressure medication.
- Among patients diagnosed with adult onset diabetes, 40% were found to also have OSA.
- OSA patients have an elevated level of “free radicals” in their blood, which have been implicated in cell mutations leading to cancers.
At the end of the first day of the sleep apnea workshop, the doctor asked if 3 attendees would wear a new, very accurate sleep test machine as they slept that night. I volunteered. The next day he reviewed the results with the class. The result: I HAVE SLEEP APNEA!
I now believe that the reason I had severe artery plaque buildup, and the reason I had to have an emergency triple bypass, is that I suffered from Obstructive Sleep Apnea and it went undiagnosed too long.
I am now the biggest convert for testing people for sleep apnea. It used to be, 3 years ago, that we screened for sleep apnea because I was concerned about teeth. Now we screen for OSA because I want to save lives. Our office immediately implemented the use of the Home Sleep Testing Unit recommended at the sleep apnea workshop I attended, and I have updated our medical history form to include questions about sleep and fatigue.
Don’t wait as long as I did to screen yourself for sleep apnea. It’s no exaggeration to say that learning the results could save your life.
I encourage you to call our office as soon as possible to borrow our sleep testing unit and screen yourself. It’s easy, accurate, and inexpensive. We have arranged for a specialist in sleep medicine to read the results of the sleep tests and make recommendations.
- If you or your partner snore, borrow our sleep screening unit.
- If you or your partner wake unrested, borrow our sleep screening unit.
- If you or your partner have daytime fatigue, borrow our sleep screening unit.
- If you or your partner have high blood pressure, borrow our sleep screening unit.