As if going under for surgery wasn’t scary enough, now there’s research showing that those suffering from untreated sleep apnea are more likely than others to have cardiovascular complications from medical procedures, such as cardiac arrest and shock.
The study, published in the October edition of Anesthesiology, the official medical journal of the American Society of Anesthesiologists, is the first of its kind. In comparing the post-operative effects of 4,211 patients who have sleep apnea with an equal group of patients who don’t, it found that those sleep apnea patients treated prior to surgery with the CPAP, were – surprise (not really!) – less than half as likely to experience cardiovascular complications than those who went untreated.
Sleep apnea, which affects millions, causes the soft tissue in the rear of the throat to close, triggering the brain to respond by waking you up in order to continue breathing. This may happen hundreds of times per night! But the CPAP, which keeps the airway open by delivering pressurized air through a face mask, results in a good night’s sleep and contributes to overall better health. And, now we have even more proof of the benefits of the CPAP – when used before surgery, it can decrease a patient’s risk of developing heart complications.
Thomas Mutter, MD, from the department of anesthesia and perioperative medicine at the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada, says that “as many as 25 percent of surgical patients may have [sleep apnea] but the vast majority of these patients aren’t treated or don’t know they have the disorder.” Therefore, because sleep apnea is associated with an increased risk of surgical complications and is a condition that can often be looked by, it is crucial if you think you may be suffering from the disorder that you get tested for it – especially if you have a medical procedure coming up. And the good news about this is that it’s not hard to get tested; you don’t have to visit a sleep lab. You can order a home sleep test, which is comfortable and easy to administer in the convenience of your own home.
The study adds to the steadily increasing database of research in learning how to care for this ever-growing population. However, it is estimated that approximately 16 million out of around 18 million Americans thought to have sleep apnea are going undiagnosed!
So, if you’re suffering from any sleep apnea symptoms, don’t just wait until pre-surgery to get tested. Do it for a better quality of life; sleep apnea has been linked to decreased sex drive, hearing loss, weight gain, exhaustion and fatigue, headaches… even potential brain damage. For the sake of your overall well-being and health, and to increase your chances of coming out of surgery complication-free, get tested today! And if you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, make sure you tell your doctor before any medical procedure.