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News Link • Health and Physical Fitness

What Is Sleep Apnea?

• Fred Cicetti via LiveScience
Question: My husband seems to stop breathing briefly during the night. It scares me, but he doesn’t seem to be worried about it. Any ideas about what causes this?

It’s possible that your husband is experiencing sleep apnea. I urge you to get your husband to a doctor for a diagnosis because sleep apnea can be a serious disorder.

High blood pressure is common in sleep apnea. Sudden drops in blood oxygen levels that occur during sleep stoppages increase blood pressure and strain the cardiovascular system, raising the risk of heart failure and stroke.

About 18 million Americans have sleep apnea. It’s much more common in older adults and men. Apnea is Greek for “without breath.”

People with sleep apnea stop breathing for as long as 30 seconds at a time. These interruptions can happen hundreds of times a night. The breathing cessations may wake you and prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep. These awakenings usually are so brief that you don’t recall them.

There are two kinds of sleep apnea: central and obstructive.

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