Obstructive sleep apnea is a common condition. About half of the people who have this condition are overweight.
Men are more likely than women to have sleep apnea. Although the condition can occur at any age, the risk increases as you get older. A family history of sleep apnea also increases your risk for the condition.
People who have small airways in their noses, throats, or mouths are more likely to have sleep apnea. Small airways might be due to the shape of these structures or allergies or other conditions that cause congestion.
Small children might have enlarged tonsil tissues in their throats. Enlarged tonsil tissues raise a child’s risk for sleep apnea. Overweight children also might be at increased risk for sleep apnea.
Race and ethnicity might play a role in the risk of developing sleep apnea. However, more research is needed.
Sleep Apnea Research: The HeartBeat Study06/07/2012
In this video—presented by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health—Dr. Susan Redline of Harvard Medical School/Brigham and Women's Hospital discusses her ongoing sleep apnea research. Sleep apnea is a common disorder that can raise your risk for high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats), heart failure, obesity, and diabetes.
One of Dr. Redline's projects, the HeartBEAT Study, is comparing treatments for sleep apnea to see whether they lower the risk of heart disease. The results of this research, which is funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, may help reduce deaths from heart attacks and strokes.
Living With and Managing Sleep Apnea05/18/2011
This video—presented by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health—shows how Jim, the father of two young girls, has coped with having sleep apnea. Symptoms such as waking up tired and falling asleep while driving long distances made Jim concerned about his health. While Jim was sleeping, his wife noticed snoring and long periods of silence followed by gasps.
Wanting a better quality of life, Jim sought the advice of his doctor, who recommended a sleep study. As a result of the sleep study, Jim was diagnosed with severe obstructive sleep apnea and prescribed treatment with a CPAP machine. CPAP provides mild air pressure to keep the airways open during sleep.
Jim explains that adjusting to CPAP treatment was hard at first, and his inability to stick with the treatment led to more symptoms. However, after using the CPAP machine regularly, Jim feels better and has more energy to do activities with his children.
For more information about living with and managing sleep apnea, go to the Health Topics Sleep Apnea article.