ComplicationsBy Mayo Clinic Staff
Sleep apnea is considered a serious medical condition. Complications may include:
Aug. 25, 2015
Daytime fatigue. The repeated awakenings associated with sleep apnea
make normal, restorative sleep impossible. People with sleep apnea often experience
severe daytime drowsiness, fatigue and irritability.
You may have difficulty concentrating and find yourself falling asleep at work,
while watching TV or even when driving. People with sleep apnea have an increased
risk of motor vehicle and workplace accidents.
You may also feel quick tempered, moody or depressed. Children and adolescents
with sleep apnea may do poorly in school or have behavior problems.
High blood pressure or heart problems. Sudden drops in blood oxygen
levels that occur during sleep apnea increase blood pressure and strain the
cardiovascular system. If you have obstructive sleep apnea, your risk of high
blood pressure (hypertension) is greater than if you don't.
Obstructive sleep apnea may increase the risk of recurrent heart attack, and
abnormal heartbeats, such as atrial fibrillation. Obstructive sleep apnea also
increases the risk of stroke. If there's underlying heart disease, these multiple
episodes of low blood oxygen (hypoxia or hypoxemia) can lead to sudden death
from an irregular heartbeat.
- Type 2 diabetes. People with sleep apnea are more likely to develop
insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes compared with people without the sleep
- Metabolic syndrome. This disorder is a collection of other risk factors
linked to a higher risk of heart disease. The conditions that make up metabolic
syndrome include high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol, high blood sugar
and an increased waist circumference.
- Complications with medications and surgery. Obstructive sleep apnea
is also a concern with certain medications and general anesthesia. People with
sleep apnea may be more likely to experience complications following major surgery
because they're prone to breathing problems, especially when sedated and lying
on their backs. Before you have surgery, tell your doctor that you have sleep
apnea and how it's treated.
- Liver problems. People with sleep apnea are more likely to have abnormal
results on liver function tests, and their livers are more likely to show signs
of scarring. This is a condition known as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
- Sleep-deprived partners. Loud snoring can keep those around you from
getting good rest and eventually disrupt your relationships. It's not uncommon
for a partner to go to another room, or even on another floor of the house,
to be able to sleep. Many bed partners of people who snore may be sleep-deprived
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