Do Common Sleep Disorders Increase Your Risk of Death? Here’s what the experts say


A new study has found that common sleep disorders like insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea can lead to cardiovascular problems that can also prove fatal. The study, published in the European Respiratory Journal, noted that people who suffer from a combination of the two sleep disorders are more vulnerable to premature death.

“Insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea are the two most common sleep disorders, affecting 10 to 30 percent of the population, but people can often suffer from both at the same time,” said Dr Bastien Lechat from Flinders Health and Medical Research Institute: Sleep Health.

“Previously, little was known about the impact of comorbid insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea (COMISA), but what we did know is that for people with both conditions, the results for health is systematically worse than those who have no ailment or those who only suffer from it, ”added Lechat.

Researchers at Flinders University also studied a large US-based dataset of more than 5,000 people to understand the risks of COMISA.

Participants were 60 years old at the start of the study with 52% female, who were followed for about 15 years. The study period witnessed the deaths of 1,210 people.

According to the study, participants with COMISA were twice as likely to have high blood pressure and 70% more likely to have cardiovascular disease as participants without insomnia or sleep apnea. He also suggested that participants with COMISA had a 47% increased risk of death (for whatever reason) compared to participants with none of the sleep disorders.

“This is the first study to assess the risk of mortality in participants with comorbid insomnia and sleep apnea,” said Dr Lechat, who led the research.

“Since these people are at a higher risk of having health problems, it is important that people who are screened for one disorder are also screened for the other,” added Lechat.

What are these sleep disorders?

Obstructive sleep apnea is characterized by a periodic cessation of air flow resulting in a significant reduction in blood oxygen levels and frequent awakenings. “It is more frequently observed in men, postmenopausal women and people who are obese or have anatomical abnormalities of the upper respiratory tract. They are associated with excessive snoring, frequent awakenings from sleep, early morning headaches, lethargy and a tendency to fall asleep during the day, said Dr Viswesvaran Balasubramanian, consultant in interventional pulmonology. and sleep medicine, Yashoda Hospitals Hyderabad.

He also mentioned how insomnia, which is characterized by the inability to initiate or maintain sleep, begins to affect daily activities, which can be acute or chronic.

What are the causes of sleep disturbances?

According to Dr Satya Ranjan Sahu, consultant pulmonologist, Narayana Superspecialized Hospital, Gurugram, sleep disturbances are mainly due to lifestyle and psychiatric causes.

“Obesity and stress are the two main factors that cause them. They play a key role in the worsening of the prognosis of previous comorbid diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and hypertension. Early diagnosis and lifestyle modification are part of the preventive measures, ”he said.

What can be done?

According to Dr. Balasubramanian, early identification and appropriate management with continuous positive airway pressure therapy (CPAP) and other surgical modalities can lead to reduced morbidity and mortality. “In addition, several studies have shown that the highest risk of death in sleep apnea occurs in patients under the age of 50 and the risk tends to decrease with age,” Dr Subramaniam said. .

He added how the non-pharmacological treatment of insomnia can help. “The adoption of modalities such as adherence to sleep hygiene measures and the use of non-pharmacological treatments for insomnia such as cognitive therapy are emphasized,” he said.

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