The Minority/ Black Health Blog  

Monday, June 22, 2015

Almost 80 Percent of Blacks Have Symptoms of This Silent Killer


Obstructive sleep apnea affects up to 12 million Americans. According to a 2005 report, almost 80% of African Americans have symptoms of sleep apnea, which are often ignored. But ignoring the symptoms is dangerous as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can lead to sudden death from a cardiac event, congestive heart failure and other vascular diseases.

What is OSA?

OSA is considered a serious medical condition. It is a condition caused when the muscles in the back of the throat relax so deeply, the airway is cut off, and breathing can stop for as long as 10 seconds. Although many patients are not even aware of OSA symptoms, they are at greater risk due to the sudden drops in blood oxygen caused by sleep apnea which can increase blood pressure and strain the cardiovascular system.

Blacks at greater risk

A new study shows that blacks are more prone to this potentially dangerous condition than whites. In fact, 80 percent of blacks have OSA signs. It is believed that causes are related to the fact that blacks have higher levels of obesity, larger tonsils and larger neck size, and are less likely to seek treatment for the disorder than whites. All of these factors place them at greater risk for OSA.

Sudden death

In extreme cases, sudden death from heart complications related to sleep apnea can occur. The Yale Center for Sleep Medicine in a recent study found that obstructive sleep apnea "significantly increases the risk of stroke or death from any cause." If you have any symptoms such as loud snoring, interrupted breathing and waking up repeatedly during the night, see a doctor and find out if the symptoms are a sign of obstructive sleep apnea.
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