More Than Half of the People Who Die from Heart Failure Had Sleep Apnea
According to experts, arrhythmias, hypertension and low performance are some of the consequences of an interrupted sleep.
An interrupted night sleep may cause more problems than people would think, above all if that is due to sleep apnea, a disease characterized by pauses in breathing during sleep. This disorder and the importance of a good night rest were the main topics of the meeting that took place on April 17 in the HUA, in which participated sleep disorder specialists with national and worldwide prestige.
The main and maybe the most dangerous relationship between sleep apnea and health is its impact on the cardiovascular system. Dr. David White, professor of Harvard University, gave a lecture where he emphasized that there could be a connection between hypertension, diabetes, heart attack and stroke, and sleep apnea.
“Apnea causes blood oxygen to decrease and increase due to pauses in breathing, which affects cardiovascular health,” he summarized. He mentioned data indicating that hypertension increases with each apnea, and those who suffer from this disorder are two and even four times more likely to develop complex arrhythmias.
Additionally, Dr. White mentioned an observational study known as The Wisconsin Sleep Cohort conducted by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the United States. The researchers found out that 30-60 year-old adults with sleep apnea were two and three times more likely to die of any cause than those who did not have this disorder.
This finding coincides with other research works showing that the prevalence of apnea in patients who die of heart failure is 40-70 percent. Dr. White emphasized the importance of detecting and treating in time this disease, which goes unnoticed very frequently.
Driving drowsy is as dangerous as driving with high blood alcohol levels
Another important talk in the conference was “Fatigue, sleepiness, alertness and stress in risk groups.” Dr. Daniel Cardinali, professor of the UBA ( University of Buenos Aires) and researcher at CONICET, described the consequences of living in a “society that sleep less than it should”: “Physiologically, we need an 8-hour sleep, while the average sleep time is 6 hours: this is not enough.”
He states that in the last 40 years, our sleep hours have been reduced by 25 percent.
Among other things, this causes sleepiness during the day resulting in lack of attention, fatigue, more mistakes, reduced learning capacity, reduced alertness and reduced ability to solve problems.
Drowsiness signs could be so severe that sometimes they cause the person to have car accidents; in fact, Dr. Cardinali, based on published studies, said that “after being awake for 17-18 hours, our body reacts as someone with a blood alcohol level of 0.5% (above the legal drink-drive limit)".
Dr. Cardinali, together with Dr. Daniel Pérez Chada chief of the Neumonology Service of the HUA, has recently finished a study in which they evaluated the work conditions of bus drivers taking into account stress, sleepiness and alertness. They collected data from 1023 bus drivers from January to December. 2008. The findings, which will be published soon, confirm that “it is important to raise people’s awareness on this subject and promote the importance of sleeping well,” as researchers concluded.
About the HUA
The HUA started its activity in May 2000. It is a nonprofit organization dedicated to teaching, doing biomedical research and providing assistance. This is a General Acute Care and High Complexity Hospital, which has a state-of-the-art technical infrastructure and an outstanding team of professionals. Its commitment to the search for truth and the promotion of the culture of life implies paying special attention to the quality of work, aiming at service and human values. With the premise of taking care of people professionally and compassionately, the HUA base its services on the ethical and scientific formation of its staff, and the technology applied to each of its specialties. Consistent to its ideology, the institution is committed to an important community service work, both in the community it belongs to and the rest of the country. For more information visit www.hospitalaustral.edu.ar