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What are some possible complications of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)?

There are many possible complications of sleep apnea. People with sleep apnea tend to be overly tired and have trouble concentrating, which can lead to trouble such as traffic accidents. Serious problems like high blood pressure, stroke, and heart failure can also result from untreated sleep apnea. Additionally, people with sleep apnea may experience post-surgical complications.

Obstructive sleep apnea results in low oxygen levels in the blood, because the blockages prevent air from getting to the lungs. The low oxygen levels also affect brain and heart function. OSA is more common than asthma in adults, and up to two-thirds of the people who have obstructive sleep apnea are overweight.

For those who have OSA, elevated levels of pro-inflammatory markers in the body can directly worsen the problem. Those with more than twenty apneas (complete obstructions) per hour of sleep may have a greater risk of dying from cardiac rhythm and rate disturbances, and complications of high blood pressure such as stroke and heart attacks, than do people with fewer apneas.
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Some of the possible complications of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) include:
  • increased risk of hypertension, abnormal heart rhythms, heart attack and stroke
  • decreased physical performance
  • impaired concentration and poor judgment
  • forgetfulness
  • mood swings or behavior changes
  • difficulty managing high blood pressure
  • increased risk for and/or difficulty managing diabetes

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.