Q. How Does Sleep Apnea Increase the Risk of Stroke?
Studies have shown that people with obstructive sleep apnea have approximately double the risk of having a stroke as people without sleep apnea. How exactly does sleep apnea increase the risk of stroke?
Answer: The relationship between sleep apnea and stroke is likely due to several factors, and the exact mechanism is not fully understood. However, there are several theories.
Changes in blood flow during apneas may affect the risk for stroke. Studies show that blood flow within the arteries of the brain decreases during apnea, and this correlates with the duration of the apneic event.
Another possibility is that strokes are more common because sleep apnea exacerbates known risk factors for stroke, including high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease.
Sleep apnea also causes inflammation in the body by promoting the release of stress hormones during periods of apnea. This ultimately causes changes in blood vessels and clotting, which may make strokes more likely.
Finally, the risk factors for sleep apnea and stroke (such as obesity) may be shared.
Answer: Snoring is a major sign of sleep apnea. The difference is, with sleep apnea, the snoring is accompanied by pauses that are followed by choking or gasping, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Many times, people don’t know they are snoring or gasping in the midst of snoring, but rather, a family member points it out to them.
Not everyone who snores has sleep apnea. If you think you might have sleep apnea, talk with your doctor. A sleep study might need to be done to determine if you have sleep apnea and how severe it is.
Answer: Sleep apnea – chronic snoring with paused breathing filled by choking or gasping – can cause people to be more than just tired come morning.
With the lack of sleep and fresh air, sleep apnea can strain your heart, lungs and other organs.
According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), if left untreated, sleep apnea can cause:
- High Blood Pressure
- Heart Attack
- Congestive Heart Failure
- Cardiac Arrhythmia
- Morning headaches
- Memory or learning problems and not being able to concentrate
- Feeling irritable, depressed, or having mood swings or personality changes
- Waking up frequently to urinate
- Dry mouth or sore throat when you wake up
In children, sleep apnea can cause hyperactivity, poor school performance and angry or hostile behavior.
Children who have sleep apnea also may breathe through their mouths instead of their noses during the day.
Q. Can an oral device be used by a patient who is totally edentulous (wear upper and lower dentures)?
Answer: People wearing upper dentures can be fit with the appliance with minimal problems. For people with lower dentures it is not impossible but requires a little more work. The appliance requires stabilization with retention, without teeth, the bone is not enough to stabilize the appliance. Therefore, the jawbone would require mini implants that would hold the denture in place for the appliance to be stabilized.
(Mini Implants are a good solution for people who minimal bone and have difficulty wearing lower dentures.)