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Severe Sleep Apnea Increases Risk of Early Death by '46%'

18 Aug 09

A new study by researchers at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, has shown that severe sleeping problems - such as sleep apnea - increase the risk of early death by up to 46 per cent - particularly in older men. The most common attribute of the condition being a temporary collapse of the upper-airway during sleep. By studying the sleeping patterns of over 6000 men and women for an average period of eight years, Naresh Punjab and his team in the States were able to observe the increased risks caused by sleep apnea. Indeed, regardless of factors including age, sex or weight, those who suffered from severe sleep apnea were over 40% more likely to die early and from potentially any cause. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health - the group that funded the study - calculates that roughly 12 million Americans suffer from sleep-breathing related problems every year - adding that the majority of these cases are either not diagnosed or not sufficiently treated.

Dr. David Rapoport of New York University, who also worked on the study, commented that "The best treatment for sleep apnea is weight loss. However, the most successful treatment can be a nasal CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) mask that applies pressure to help keep the airways of a patient open while they sleep, allowing normal breathing", he said. "Another possible helpful treatment is surgery", he added.

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