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Format: 04/24/2014
Format: 04/24/2014


KDKA-TV: Sleep apnea linked to higher death risk

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

Sleep apnea is closely linked with obesity, high blood pressure, heart failure and stroke. 

It is also linked with a higher death risk.

"We've been getting a sense over time that sleep apnea is bad for you if you don't treat it," says Dr. Lewis Kline, a sleep specialist at West Penn Hospital.

A government-funded study in the online journal, Public Library of Science, looked at 6,400 people over eight years.

Those with major sleep apnea were 46 percent more likely to die of any cause. Men ages 40 to 70 with severe sleep-disordered breathing were twice as likely to die.

"It's really something that should be addressed like high blood pressure and diabetes, asthma," continues Dr. Kline.

Sleep apnea is caused by a collapse of the upper airway during sleep. Strong snoring can be a symptom, but with sleep apnea, you have many brief interruptions in breathing, lasting 20 to 30 seconds. When this happens 30 times an hour, it is considered severe.

The government estimates 12 million Americans have sleep apnea.

"Ninety-five percent of people don't even discuss their sleep problems with the physician, and conversely only 5 percent of physicians discuss sleep with the patient," points out Dr. Kline.

The National Sleep Foundation puts the number at 18 million.

"It occupies about 10 percent of the population," Dr. Kline says.

Many go undiagnosed and untreated.

To read more or see the video, visit the KDKA-TV web site.

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