Who Is At Risk for Sleep Apnea?
There are millions of people who have obstructive sleep apnea and at least half of them are overweight.
Men are more at risk of developing sleep apnea, then women, and older people are more likely to get sleep apnea then younger people. It is estimated that 1 in 10 people older than 65 has sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is more common in Hispanics, African Americans, and Pacific Islanders than in Caucasians.
You are more likely to develop it, if someone in your family has sleep apnea.
People who have small airways in their noses, throats, or mouths also are more likely to have sleep apnea. Smaller airways may be due to the shape of these structures or allergies or other medical conditions that cause congestion in these areas.
Small children may have enlarged tonsil tissues in their throats. This can increase their risk of sleep apnea. Overweight children also may be at increased risk for the condition.
About half of the people who have sleep apnea also have high blood pressure. Sleep apnea also is linked to smoking, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and risk factors for stroke and heart failure.
Dangers of Untreated Sleep Apnea
Untreated sleep apnea can:
- Increase the risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, obesity, and diabetes
- Increase the risk of, or worsen, heart failure
- Make arrhythmia's, or irregular heartbeats, more likely
- Increase the chance of having work-related or driving accidents
Sleep apnea is a chronic condition that requires long-term management. Lifestyle changes, mouthpieces, surgery, and/or breathing devices can successfully treat sleep apnea in many people.