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Health care provider explaining to a client the risks of not treating sleep apnea

Risks of untreated
sleep apnea

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Sleep apnea is one of the most common sleep disorders in Canada, but it is often misdiagnosed as another condition – like depression or high blood pressure – and left untreated. Only about 25% of the people who have sleep apnea are aware they have it. 1

Sleep apnea risks you should know about

Sleep apnea treatment is painless and noninvasive; but when it is left undiagnosed or untreated you run the risk of developing chronic health problems or injuries that can impact your quality of life.

Reduced quality of everyday life

Untreated sleep apnea can make it hard to get out of bed in the morning, and can cause relationship problems and depression.

It  can also cause grogginess, burnout, headaches, cognitive fogginess, hypersensitivity, tiredness, and irritability, all of which are common side effects of untreated sleep apnea.

The problem is that you can get used to feeling this way and not recognize that you could feel better if you treat your sleep apnea.

More than 70% of people with sleep apnea say they feel depressed and don’t know why. CPAP therapy can reverse the feeling of depression. 1

Risk of future chronic diseases

If you are already living with sleep apnea, you might think it is safe to continue doing so at no risk.  Some people feel depressed, have a higher than average blood pressure, or are exhibiting the onset of diabetes and think these are unrelated to their sleep apnea.

However, by not treating your sleep apnea you risk the development or worsening of these chronic health diseases which are closely associated with obstructive sleep apnea, including:

  • High blood pressure 3,4
  • Stroke 3,4
  • Type 2 diabetes 5
  • Metabolic syndrome 6
  • Depression 7

Injuries

Since untreated sleep apnea disrupts your sleep and can cause you to feel tired at work, at home, or even while driving, it may also lead to workplace or vehicle injuries with long-term health consequences.

This can occur because sleep apnea prevents you from getting the full restorative benefits of your sleep, which you rely on to stay alert and focused and make calculated decisions.

If you have untreated sleep apnea, you are 2.5 times more likely to be involved in a a vehicle collision. 8

Are there sleep apnea cures?

There is no sleep apnea cure but when used as directed, CPAP treatment is considered 100% effective at treating day-to-day symptoms and improving or possibly eliminating long-term chronic conditions associated with sleep apnea.

Once you begin your sleep apnea treatment, you should soon notice feeling much better and more energized.

The long-term benefits of sleep apnea treatment

Sleep apnea treatment is important because it can improve the quality of your everyday life and offer long-term health benefits that can help resolve issues related to:

  • High blood pressure 9,10
  • Type 2 diabetes 11,12
  • Metabolic syndrome 13
  • Depression and Headaches 14
  • Traffic accidents 16
  • Focus and alertness 17

Can I stop my sleep apnea treatment?

If you feel unmotivated, have started treatment and found it uncomfortable, or have used your equipment, felt better and stopped as a result – remember that sleep apnea has no cure and needs ongoing treatment.

We are here to support you and help you consider your options
  • Helping you try a different mask
  • Providing information on other forms of sleep apnea treatment
  • Replacing your mask or machine
  • Supporting you and providing any other education to make your sleep apnea treatment successful again

References

A further look at sleep apnea

  1. Young, T., Peppard, P. E., & Gottlieb, D. J. (2002). Epidemiology of Obstructive Sleep Apnea: A Population Health Perspective. American Journal of Respiratory care medicine, 165(09), 1217-1239. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1164/rccm.2109080.
  2. Edwards, Cass, et al. “Depressive Symptoms before and after Treatment of Obstructive Sleep Apnea in Men and Women.” Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, vol. 11, no. 09, 15 Sept. 2015, pp. 1029–1038., dx.doi.org/10.5664/jcsm.5020.
  3. Young, T., Peppard, P. E., & Gottlieb, D. J. (2002). Epidemiology of Obstructive Sleep Apnea: A Population Health Perspective. American Journal of Respiratory care medicine, 165(09), 1217-1239. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1164/rccm.2109080.
  4. Young T. et al (2008): Sleep Disordered Breathing and Mortality: Eighteen-Year Follow-up of the Wisconsin Sleep Cohort.
  5. Meslier N, Gagnadoux F, Giraud P, Person C, Ouksel H, Urban T, Racineux JL (2003): Impaired glucose-insulin metabolism in males with obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome. Eur Respir J 22(1): 156-160.
  6. Surendra K. Sharma, M.D. et al. “CPAP for the Metabolic Syndrome in Patients with Obstructive Sleep Apnea | NEJM.” New England Journal of Medicine, www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1103944.
  7. Edwards, Cass, et al. dx.doi.org/10.5664/jcsm.5020.
  8. Karimi, Mahssa, et al. “Sleep Apnea Related Risk of Motor Vehicle Accidents Is Reduced by Continuous Positive Airway Pressure: Swedish Traffic Accident Registry Data.” Sleep, vol. 38, no. 3, 1 Mar. 2015, pp. 341–349., doi:10.5665/sleep.4486.
  9. Campos-Rodriguez, Francisco, et al. “Effect of Continuous Positive Airway Pressure on Blood Pressure and Metabolic Profile in Women with Sleep Apnoea.” European Respiratory Journal, vol. 50, no. 2, 2017, p. 1700257., www.erj.ersjournals.com/content/50/2/1700257.
  10. Gottlieb, Daniel J., et al. “CPAP versus Oxygen in Obstructive Sleep Apnea.” New England Journal of Medicine, vol. 370, no. 24, 12 May 2014, pp. 2276–2285., doi:10.1056/nejmoa1306766.
  11. Mokhlesi, Babak, et al. “Effect of One Week of 8-Hour Nightly Continuous Positive Airway Pressure Treatment of Obstructive Sleep Apnea on Glycemic Control in Type 2 Diabetes: A Proof-of-Concept Study.” American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, vol. 194, no. 4, 15 Aug. 2016, pp. 516–519., www.doi.org/10.1164/rccm.201602-0396LE.
  12. Martínez-Cerón, Elisabet, et al. “Effect of Continuous Positive Airway Pressure on Glycemic Control in Patients with Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Type 2 Diabetes. A Randomized Clinical Trial.” American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, vol. 194, no. 4, 2016, pp. 476–485., www.doi.org/10.1164/rccm.201510-1942OC.
  13. Surendra K. Sharma, M.D. et al. www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1103944.
  14. Edwards, Cass, et al. dx.doi.org/10.5664/jcsm.5020.
  15. Siccoli, Massimiliano M., et al. “Effects of Continuous Positive Airway Pressure on Quality of Life in Patients With Moderate to Severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea: Data From a Randomized Controlled Trial.” Sleep, vol. 31, no. 11, July 2008, pp. 1551–1558., doi:10.1093/sleep/31.11.1551.
  16. Karimi, Mahssa, et al. doi:10.5665/sleep.4486
  17. Siccoli, Massimiliano M., et al. doi:10.1093/sleep/31.11.1551.

Why choose us

  • 01

    Experienced

    Our Respiratory therapists have access to the newest CPAP equipment, and are trained to find the right fit for you

  • 02

    Clinical leaders

    We offer the best clinical expertise in the country, so you can fully benefit from a clinical CPAP experience

  • 03

    Individualized approach

    We listen and observe to personalize your CPAP therapy and support you for better results

More about

Sleep apnea testing

We are here to support you in diagnosing your sleep apnea. Learn about the common sleep apnea tests offered in Canada, and how to obtain them.

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