Everyday Health - "Sleep Apnea Linked to Higher Risk of Sudden Cardiac Death" - Jeffrey Kopman

Patients with obstructive sleep apnea might also be at a higher risk for the often fatal condition known as sudden cardiac death, according to a new study.

New York, NY
 – June 11, 2013  –– 

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) takes a person's breath away throughout the night, but the corresponding increased risk of sudden cardiac death shows that it might also take someone's breath away forever, according to a study from the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. The largest study of its kind looked at 10,701 patients from 1987 to 2003 suspected to have difficulty breathing during sleep. During the 15 year sample, 142 patients had fatal or resuscitated sudden cardiac death. These patients were more likely to be over the age of 60. "Sleep apnea is characterized by a drop in blood oxygen levels, which creates strain on the heart," said Mary Ann McLaughlin, MD, associate professor of Cardiology and Medical Director of the Cardiac Health Program at The Mount Sinai Medical Center, who was not affiliated with the study. "To compensate for the low oxygen, the body may increase blood pressure, which we know can lead to a heart attack or stroke." Sleep apnea has been linked to other cardiovascular diseases. "Being overweight, male, older age, and a smoker are common risk factors in both sleep apnea and cardiac death," explained Dr. McLaughlin. "Anyone with sleep issues should practice good sleep hygiene," concluded Dr. McLaughlin. "This includes maintaining a normal sleep schedule, avoiding alcohol, nicotine, caffeine and heavy meals before bedtime, and not using the TV or computer in bed."

- Mary Ann McLaughlin, MD, Associate Professor of Cardiology and Medical Director of the Cardiac Health Program at The Mount Sinai Medical Center

Learn More