Untreated and undiagnosed Sleep Apnea is not only a major cause of death, it can greatly affect the quality of life, even for children.
It has taken far too long for obstructive sleep apnea, a.k.a. OSA, to be recognized as an extremely severe threat to health and sometimes the lives of others, as well as the effect it can have on the quality of one’s life and well being. In fact, the realization of the severity of this problem has not yet occurred in many health care practices, as evidenced by the lack of a thorough review and Q&A of a patient’s health history and symptoms. A simple questionnaire could be given to every patient indicating the need for a sleep study. This questionnaire is the first step that each and every medical and dental practice should take towards a basic standard of care.
Insurance companies have become aware of the risk of driving with sleep deprivation to the point that an accident may not be covered when caused by untreated OSA.
The anti-snoring devices you see so often on TV, or are provided by dentists that don’t have thorough training in sleep apnea, should be illegal because they rarely help with OSA and cover only one symptom—snoring. I compare this to putting a Band-Aid over a skin cancer, or pulling out the battery to stop the beeping of a smoke detector when there is a roaring fire. The snoring is a warning signal. By stopping the snoring and not knowing if the apnea is being effectively treated, this person’s life may be put in jeopardy.
Here are just a few of the statistics associated with this dysfunction:
– Untreated OSA subjects are 12 times more likely to have an auto accident.
– Tired driving is the #1 cause of accidents, more than DUI.
– 36% of fatal accidents involved sleep deprivation.
– Death caused by any disease; regardless of age, weight, sex or smoking; is 46% more likely to occur in patients with untreated OSA – a study of 6,400 subjects.
– Recent research at Stanford and USC revealed a strong relationship between OSA, dementia and Alzheimer’s. 70% of these dementia and Alzheimer’s patients had OSA.
– There is a strong correlation between the severity of cognitive impairment and the severity of sleep apnea.
– 500% increase in cancer deaths when OSA is involved.
– Nearly 80% of nocturnal strokes are associated with OSA
– OSA contributes to myocardial infarction more than hypertension and smoking together, causing 23.3 x increase in the odds (smoking 11.1 x and hypertension 7.8 x).
To me, what is far more important is that when I help my patients to overcome this problem, their health improves. They enjoy their day and even their work, without being over-tired, and their spouse can, once again return to the bedroom. I could go on for pages with frightening statistics. I hope that by listing just a handful of them it may help you see the extreme importance of a condition that is yet to get the recognition it deserves.
Earlier I mentioned a short questionnaire that is quite successful at making a tentative diagnosis of OSA, rating the probability of someone having OSA. It is much more than just how bad you snore. You may not snore at all and still have OSA. One of these tests is called the ARES test. If you would like us to email you a test, just ask us to at firstname.lastname@example.org. Depending on how you, or your loved one scores, it may help give you the extra nudge you need to take action today. My staff can help you find the best place for a sleep study, even if it is in the comfort of your own home.
Once OSA is diagnosed our office specializes in dental sleep medicine and appliances to correct OSA. We work closely with medical sleep specialists to give our patients optimal care.