What are the long-term effects of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)?
Obstructive sleep apnea causes serious medical conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, strokes, diabetes, obesity, irritability, short-term memory loss, and depression, among many other symptoms.
People who suffer from OSA stop breathing dozens, if not hundreds, of times per night. Every time they stop breathing, their blood pressure spikes as their brain tells the heart to pump faster and harder because the brain is registering a lack of oxygenated blood. The heart pumps faster, but there is still no oxygen getting to the brain and vital organs.
Eventually the brain sends an arousal signal to the body. This causes the sufferer to momentarily awaken. This is the point at which the sufferer gasps for air and repositions themselves to breathe. This usually only lasts a moment or two. As they drift back to sleep their muscles relax and their jaw and tongue once again fall back into their pharyngeal canal or airway causing a blockage.
This continued process of lack of oxygen, spiking blood pressure, and lack of deep and restful sleep over and over again throughout the night and, consequently, over years is extremely unhealthy for the body. Long term sufferers can expect to shave 10 – 15 years off of their life expectancy if their OSA is not treated.