*Nothing in this article constitutes medical advice. Seek the guidance of a physician if you have any questions.*
Sleep apnea is a more common condition than people may realize, affecting one in five American adults with men suffering from the disease more frequently than women. Left untreated, this health issue can lead to additional problems as serious as heart disease.
What is sleep apnea?
There are two types of sleep apnea:
Obstructive sleep apnea
The most common type of sleep apnea is OSA, and it affects over 20 million Americans. In obstructive sleep apnea, the soft tissue in the back of the throat collapses and obstructs the airway, causing frequent episodes of breathing interruption.
There are a number of risk factors that can increase someone’s risk for OSA such as:
- Being overweight (though not all people with OSA are overweight)
- Narrow airway
- High blood pressure
- Family history of sleep apnea
Central sleep apnea
The far less prevalent form of sleep apnea is CSA, in which the brain fails to send signals to the muscles that control breathing, causing interruption in normal breathing.
Signs of sleep apnea
There are several signs and symptoms that may indicate someone is suffering from sleep apnea and should seek further medical treatment including:
- Loud snoring
- Excess sleepiness during the day
- Gasping or choking after abrupt awakenings
- Witnessed periods of apnea
- Night sweats
- Dry mouth or sore throat
- High blood pressure
- Difficulty concentrating
- Headache in the morning
- Decreased libido
Sleep apnea and heart disease
There is a strong correlation between sleep apnea serious health issues like irregular heart rhythms, high blood pressure, strokes, and heart disease. Sleep apnea puts enormous strain on the heart when oxygen levels repeatedly drop during episodes of apnea during the night, which can occur hundreds of time.
This repeated strain on the heart over time can result in these very serious conditions. It’s crucial that sleep apnea be identified and treated early on to prevent heart problems down the road.
Getting diagnosed with sleep apnea
Your primary care physician will likely refer you to a sleep specialist that will order something called polysomnography, in which you will spend the night at a sleep center while all your vitals and episodes of apnea are monitored to confirm you suffer from the disorder.
Sometimes you may be ordered to complete a home sleep test instead, in which your oxygen levels, heart rate, and breathing pattern is still measured through the night.
Once you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, your doctor can prescribe proper treatment, which is usually CPAP.
How CPAP treats sleep apnea and can prevent heart issues
CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure and is the first line treatment against OSA. Because the main issue with obstructive sleep apnea is an obstructed airway, CPAP delivers a constant level of pressure (set by your doctor) that helps maintain a patent airway and prevent the soft tissues from collapsing. CPAP can take a few nights to get used to, but in the long run it can save your life.
By treating and preventing the hundreds of periods of apnea and oxygen desaturation during the night, your heart won’t have to work so hard to compensate. Heart failure is very serious and a CPAP machine is a simple solution to prevent further stress to the cardiovascular system.
Cleaning your CPAP machine
Once you start regularly wearing a CPAP, it’s crucial that it is properly cleaned and maintained after each use to prevent harmful microorganisms from growing in the tubing.
Traditional methods like soap and water are time consuming and tedious. Not only do you have to scrub and adequately rinse each piece, but air drying can be difficult because of the shape of the tubing and numerous areas that can collect water.
Clean your machine with ozone
One of the most convenient and effective methods for cleaning your CPAP is ozone. If you’ve never heard of ozone before, it is a highly reactive gas made up of three oxygen molecules and happens to be a very powerful disinfecting agent.
The Sleep8 ozone cleaner
The Sleep8 ozone cleaner is the perfect solution to cleaning your CPAP or BiPAP machine with the click of a button. All you have to do is place your equipment in the special Sleep8 bag, attach it to the device, and press start. By time you return, your equipment will be sanitized and ready for your next use.
Mayo Clinic: https://www.mayoclinic.org/
American Heart Association: https://www.heart.org/
Written by: Amanda Peterson