According to the American Sleep Association, 17% of the US population have obstructive sleep apnea. It is responsible, according to JAMA 3/09, for 82% of resistant hypertensive cases. Second, there is a twelvefold increase in Alzheimer’s disease, a fourfold increase in coronary disease and sudden death, and threefold increase in cancer associated with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

Do you have it, or your patients? If you or your patients are over 40, overweight, and snore, there is a 70% chance you or they have it. The epidemic is not just in adults, but attacks our children and adolescence.

Obesity rate has now reached 30% in the United States. Obesity is a major cause of OSA. Obesity is defined as a waist size in women of 35 inch or greater, in men a 40 inch waist or greater.

Besides the morbidities mentioned, there are others such as a fourfold increase in traffic accidents, poor school and work performance, and marital discord and depression directly associated with OSA.

OSA affects stage 3 and 4 sleep and REM sleep. Stage 3 and 4 sleep and REM are essential to restoring thyroid, growth, and sex hormones and essential Neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin. Dopamine and serotonin are the executive anti-addictive and antidepressant neurotransmitters. REM sleep is essential for memory consolidation.

People with OSA or insomnia over eat, are irritable with poor frustration tolerance, on neuropsychological testing show poor memory, poor attention and concentration, and agility skills (the cause for car accidents and poor work performance). The loss of hormones replacement causes rapid aging, and this together with no sex drive, irritability, and depression is a major cause of marital and work-related problems.

Is there a remedy? Yes.

As a physician, any patient over 40 and obese, must be asked if they snore. If they do, they need a polysomnogram. If help is needed, please contact the Fortanasce Neurology Center.