Sleep apnea: Nothing to snore at
Imagine choking and gasping for air every time you fall asleep. Between 18 million and 20 million people in the United States suffer from these frightening symptoms because of a common disorder called sleep apnea. Because of a lack of awareness among both health professionals and the public, up to 90 percent of sufferers aren’t diagnosed or treated, and that could prove deadly.
People with sleep apnea literally stop breathing hundreds of times a night. Sufferers experience snoring, drowsiness during the day, lost productivity at work and much more: changes in lipid metabolism, high blood pressure, insulin resistance and increased risk of stroke.
Four out of five sleep apnea cases involve a physical obstruction of the upper airway during sleep, while in the remaining cases the drive to breathe is reduced during sleep.
Indeed sleep apnea, estimated to affect as many as one in every four adults, is a major national health issue.
Researchers in the Dental School and the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences are conducting studies to better understand the mechanics of the disorder with the goal of enhancing therapies. Their work is directly benefiting patients.