Sleep-disordered breathing linked to higher death risk

By Tom Nordlie • Published: November 24th, 2009
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

There’s nothing like a good night’s sleep to recharge your batteries.

But for people with sleep-disordered breathing, or S-D-B, peaceful slumber becomes a battle for air.

The condition involves periods of reduced airflow, leading to sleep disruption and low blood oxygen levels.

The result can be daytime sleepiness and fatigue.

What’s worse, according to a study published in the journal Public Library of Science Medicine, sleep-disordered breathing can increase the risk of death for middle-aged men.

The study involved about sixty-three-hundred men and women from several U-S cities.

Researchers monitored their respiration and heart activity during sleep. The participants were tracked for an average of eight years afterward.

During that follow-up, more than one-thousand participants died.

Using statistical analysis, the researchers determined that sleep-disordered breathing significantly increased the risk of death for men ages forty to seventy. It appeared to be linked to coronary artery disease.

The risk was especially high for men who had severe forms of the condition… more than thirty episodes of reduced airflow per hour.

For them, the risk of death was more than doubled, compared with counterparts who didn’t experience S-D-B.

Oddly, the condition didn’t seem to increase the risk of death for women or for men over age seventy.

About one-quarter of U-S men are believed to suffer from S-D-B, many of them undiagnosed.

So potentially millions are at risk for early death.

Fortunately, treatments are available, including oral appliances, supplemental oxygen and surgery.

Men troubled by excessive snoring or daytime drowsiness should see a doctor.

It could help them achieve victory in the nightly battle for breath.