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Esther Rodríguez Villegas, professor at Imperial College London and founder of London-based medical technology company Acurable, shares common health and wellness problems that can result from sleep apnea, a problem that can be detrimental to both those they suffer from it as for those who suffer from it. the loved ones of her.

One of these risks is cardiovascular disease. The sudden and frequent drops in blood oxygen caused by sleep apnea can “load the cardiovascular system and cause an increase in blood pressure,” Villegas told Fox News Digital in an interview.

“If symptoms persist for a long period of time, the chances of serious cardiovascular problems increase, such as heart attacks, strokes, or abdominal aortic aneurysms, to name a few,” he said.

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The “potentially serious” sleep disorder known as sleep apnea causes breathing to stop and start repeatedly during sleep, as defined by the Mayo Clinic.

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a type of sleep apnea that occurs when “the muscles in the throat relax and block the flow of air to the lungs,” the Mayo Clinic explained on its website.

man snoring while sleeping

Sleep apnea can be a “potentially serious” sleep disorder, according to the Mayo Clinic. (iStock)

Central sleep apnea (CSA) occurs when the brain does not send adequate signals to the muscles that control breathing.

And yet, although sleep apnea can affect anyone, certain factors such as excess weight and a thicker neck circumference, which can cause narrower airways, can increase the risk, according to the Mayo Clinic.

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Older men are at greater risk of sleep apnea, as are those who consume alcohol, smoke, or use sedatives or tranquilizers.

There is growing evidence to suggest that drops in oxygen are linked to years of reduced life expectancy, the doctor noted.

man sleeping with cpap mask

The most common treatment for sleep apnea is the use of a CPAP machine worn as a mask. (iStock)

Diabetes may be another result of sleep apnea, as patients with type 2 diabetes have a “very high” prevalence of OSA, according to Villegas.

“Unfortunately, most do not know they have obstructive sleep apnea, while recent evidence has shown that untreated disease leads to significantly worse glycemic control – in other words, worse diabetes progression,” he said.

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Since sleep apnea “severely disrupts nighttime rest,” Villegas warned that the condition can affect energy and concentration levels during the day.

According to the expert, this can cause a greater risk of suffering traffic accidents.

tired man at work

School or work performance may be at risk due to a lack of energy during the day in those with sleep apnea, an expert said. (iStock)

“Statistics vary, but in Europe, for example, untreated sleep apnea is believed to be the second leading cause of car accidents,” he said.

This lack of energy can also affect school or work performance, which can lead to disciplinary problems or accidents.

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“Children with sleep apnea are often found to underperform in school and are sometimes misdiagnosed with ADHD,” Villegas said.

“They are often labeled as aggressive or having behavioral problems, when in reality it is the result of untreated sleep apnea.”

The child yawns in bed.

Children are often misdiagnosed with ADHD due to “behavioral problems” caused by lack of sleep, an expert has claimed. (iStock)

People with sleep apnea are also more likely to experience mental health problems, Villegas added, such as low mood, irritability, anxiety and depression.

Recognize sleep apnea

A common symptom of sleep apnea is loud snoring, which is usually a clear warning sign for your partner or family members at home.

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But there are some hidden symptoms of sleep apnea that might be overlooked, Villegas warned.

These may include waking up frequently at night; waking up in the morning with a headache, dry mouth, or sore throat; or feeling fatigued, irritable or in a bad mood during the day.

The man snores in bed next to the woman.

Loud snoring is a common symptom of sleep apnea, but there are other less obvious symptoms that can be overlooked. (iStock)

Other sneaky symptoms of sleep apnea can include night sweats and erectile dysfunction, Villegas said.

Sleep apnea in children can manifest as poor behavior, difficulties in school, or sleeping in unusual positions, such as with the neck extended.

Treat the condition

The most common treatment for sleep apnea is a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine, which Villegas described as a “mask worn overnight that pushes pressurized air into the windpipe to keep it open while breathing.” sleep”.

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Alternative treatments include a variety of mandibular advancement devices (MADs), which keep the tongue and jaw in the correct position to prevent airway obstructions.

woman holds CPAP machine

While CPAP machines are a common treatment, making lifestyle changes can also improve or eliminate sleep apnea symptoms, one expert said. (iStock)

Nose, throat and mouth surgery could also help correct these blockages, Villegas said, while tonsillectomies are common in children.

In many cases, lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, reducing alcohol consumption and quitting smoking, can improve or eliminate symptoms completely, Villegas said.

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Approximately 30 million people suffer from sleep apnea in the United States; However, only six million are officially diagnosed, according to the American Medical Association.

For those who think they may have sleep apnea, Mayo Clinic recommends finding a health care provider to examine and treat you.

For more health articles, visit www.foxnews.com/health.

By Sam