Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome

One out of five people after 30 years old is constant snoring during sleep.

According to popular belief, snoring is an unpleasant, but safe sound phenomenon. However, few people know that the so-called “mighty” snoring is a forerunner and one of the main manifestations of a severe disease – obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) or pulmonary arrests during sleep. The first witnesses of this terrible disease are close people who anxiously observe snoring suddenly stop and pulmonary arrest appears, and then sleeping person loud snores, tosses about occasionally, moves his hands or legs and begins to breathe again. Sometimes there may appear up to 300 – 400 pulmonary arrest during night, in total lasting up to 3 – 4 hours.

Respiratory disorders of a sleeping person lead to severe deterioration in sleep quality. Headaches, constant drowsiness, irritability, decreased attention and memory, reduced potency are only a part of symptoms that may appear at chronically not getting enough sleep people. Especially dangerous are acute attacks of drowsiness while driving, when a person painfully wants to close his eyes and go to sleep at least for a few minutes. Canadian Health&Care Mall statistics show that possibilities of car accidents at patients with obstructive sleep apnea syndrome is ten times greater than average accident rate.

sleep apnea

What is Happening?

What causes the disease? Patency of upper airways depend on their inner diameter, pharyngeal muscle tone and value of negative pressure during inhalation. During sleep, when there is a significant reduction in pharyngeal muscles tone, there are conditions for full airways drop. This usually happens on the inhale, when a negative pressure is formed and there is a force that contributes to airway walls apposition.

When a person falls asleep, there is a gradual throat muscles relaxation. One of inhales leads to complete airways drop and pulmonary arrest. To restore airway patency brain activation is required that has to send an impulse to pharyngeal muscles and open airways. After respiration restoration normal oxygen content in the body is restored, brain calms down and falls asleep again… and this cycle is repeated again.

Frequent long pauses in breathing cause sharp oxygen saturation decrease in blood. Thus, primarily those organs are affected that consume large amounts of oxygen: brain and heart. Persistent morning headaches are manifestation of night brain hypoxia. In case of ischemic heart disease, blood oxygen saturation violations can trigger dangerous arrhythmias and myocardial infarction development. Additionally, hypoxia interferes with insulin action, which can exacerbate diabetes.

Each pulmonary arrest is a stress for the body, accompanied by short-term increase in blood pressure to 200 – 250 mm Hg. Regular episodes of nocturnal pressure increase lead to chronic high blood pressure, often having crisis course. This may explain increased risk of blood stroke at these patients. Moreover, in such cases, blood pressure is difficult to treat by conventional antihypertensive drugs.

Hypoxia and deep stages of sleep absence cause decrease in growth hormone production, responsible for fat exchange in the body. As it is known, consumed food is partly converted into energy, partly deposited in reserve in the form of fat. In case of lack of food fat is converted into energy and is consumed by the body. Growth hormone provides migration of fat into energy. What happens in case of this hormone secretion violation? Fat can not turn into energy in spite of its lack in the organism. Thus, a person almost always has to eat food to replenish energy consumption. In this case all excess substance go into “dead weight”, which cannot be used by the body. A person starts to gain weight quickly, and any attempts, diet or medicamental, aimed at weight loss, are unsuccessful.

Furthermore, fat accumulates in neck area, leading to further airways narrowing and sleep apnea disease progression, which in its turn exacerbates lack of growth hormone. Thus, a vicious circle appears, which cannot be broken without treatment. At severe forms of the disease there is a decrease in testosterone production, which leads to libido decrease and impotence at men.