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Can you die because of sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea may lead to deadly health conditions but does not cause death by itself. This condition, in fact, proves to be fatal as a result of its interactions with other life-threatening conditions. Thus, untreated sleep apnea is more likely to lead to a stroke or heart attack.

Patients with sleep apnea often have difficulty in breathing or may stop breathing for short periods of time during sleep. This sleep disorder is treatable but most cases remain undiagnosed. Thus, without treatment, sleep apnea can cause serious complications. According to the estimates from the American Sleep Apnea Association, each year at least 38,000 people in the United States die because of heart disease that gets complicated due to sleep apnea. Sleep apnea may also worsen several life-threatening conditions such as:

  • High blood pressure
  • Sudden cardiac death
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Asthma
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

According to the results of Sleep Health Heart Study 2001 published in the American Journal of Respiratory Critical Care Medicine, patients with untreated sleep apnea are more likely to have a heart attack and also have a 2-3 times greater risk of suffering a stroke as per the Sleep Health Heart Study results published in 2010. An 18-year follow-up of the Wisconsin Sleep Cohort that was published in the Sleep journal in 2008, shows that patients with sleep apnea face three times higher risk of premature death. Additionally, according to research conducted at Yale University, individuals who have had sleep apnea for about five years have a 30% higher risk of heart attack or death.

Disclaimer: We do not assume responsibility for the use of the provided information or its interpretation. Our efforts are towards providing current and reliable information; however these should not be considered, or used as a substitute for diagnosis or treatment.

Source: https://www.cedars-sinai.edu/Education/Medical-Library/