Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type of sleep apnea and is caused by an obstruction in your airway. These blockages can occur when the muscles of your throat relax too much or when tissues in the back of your throat collapse. People with obstructive sleep apnea may stop breathing repeatedly during the night and snore loudly while sleeping. These episodes of breathing temporarily lower oxygen levels in the body and cause daytime drowsiness, restless sleep, and a feeling of choking or gasping during wakefulness.
Central Sleep Apnea
Central sleep apnea (CSA) is an uncommon sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep. It can occur in both adults as well as children. Everyone breathes during sleep, but CSA happens when the part of your brain that controls breathing isn’t sending the right signals to your breathing muscles. These pauses in breathing cause oxygen levels in your body to decrease. When central sleep apnea happens too often, or for too long, the drops in blood oxygen level can damage your brain cells. This can be serious or even life-threatening. CSA also increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. Sudden, repeated episodes of low blood oxygen can worsen heart problems, especially if you have underlying heart disease or high cholesterol. Symptoms of central sleep apnea include snoring and abnormal breathing patterns during sleep. Typically, these symptoms go unnoticed or are only noticed by your partner or caregiver.
Complex Sleep Apnea
Complex sleep apnea is a more severe form of central sleep apnea (CSA) in which patients experience repeated apnea events even when using positive airway pressure therapy (CPAP or an oral appliance). These apnea events can often be caused by underlying medical conditions and medications. There are treatment options that can help people feel better and improve their quality of life. It usually involves addressing the underlying causes of the abnormal breathing while offering treatments to support normal breathing. These include positive airway pressure, supplemental oxygen, medications, and nerve stimulation.
What is it called when your heart stops while sleeping? This condition is known as sleep apnea. There are multiple types of sleep apnea, with the most common being obstructive sleep apnea or OSA. Becoming educated on the various types of sleep apnea can help you determine which type you have, the causes, the symptoms, and the best treatment options.
Connection Between Sleep Apnea & Heart Disease
Various studies have found that obesity can play a role in the development of heart disease and sleep apnea. But, having sleep apnea whether a person is obese or not, will still increase their chances of developing heart disease.
Sleep apnea has damaging effects on the cardiovascular system. This is due to the constant pauses in a person’s breathing that can put stress on the heart. For example, every time a person pauses while breathing, the level of oxygen in their blood also drops. This can activate the sympathetic nervous system.
Furthermore, when a person with OSA or obstructive sleep apnea tries to breathe, they begin to breathe in via closed or narrowed upper airways. This can put significant pressure on the chest cavity, which can then damage the heart. Constant changes in intrathoracic pressure can cause damage to the heart and result in atrial fibrillation, heart failure, and even issues with the way blood flows to the heart.
Finally, repetitive changes in a person’s oxygen levels can put a lot of stress on the body. This is known as oxidative stress and can eventually lead to heart disease because it can encourage systemic inflammation.
Types of Sleep Apnea
What are the warning signs of sleep apnea? If you snore loud enough that it causes a disturbance to the person sleeping next to you, or you wake up gasping for air, you could have sleep apnea. Another warning sign is pausing in your breathing while you are sleeping. Let us read about some of the various types of sleep apnea.
OSA- Obstructive Sleep Apnea
OSA is the most familiar type of sleep apnea and happens when there is a blockage within the throat and mouth. For instance, the tongue may rest against the soft palate while a person is sleeping. The soft palate and uvula can rest against a person’s throat, making it harder to breathe.
Central Sleep Apnea
Central sleep apnea also makes it difficult for a person to breathe, but it isn’t caused by a blockage within the upper airways. The cause of central sleep apnea is neurological. People with central sleep apnea do not snore. Instead, you may notice symptoms such as insomnia, trouble concentrating, and waking up feeling panicky or with shortness of breath.
Complex Sleep Apnea Syndrome
A person can have more than one type of sleep apnea. Complex sleep apnea syndrome is a combination of central and OSA sleep apnea. Sometimes, complex sleep apnea is evident following a sleep study. But, it is also possible that sleep apnea may not improve even after the use of a CPAP machine.