Yes, you can die from snoring and sleep apnea. It is estimated that at least 38,000 people die a year in the USA from sleep apnea.
Let's take the example of Carrie Fisher. According to her assistant's account, Fisher was traveling from London to Los Angeles and she slept through most of the flight. She suffered apneas during this time.
When she awoke, she started vomiting, slumped over, and became unresponsive. These symptoms are consistent with a heart attack in women.
She had mental health problems and drug addiction throughout her life. The cause of her death was listed as sleep apnea along with atherosclerotic heart disease, and drug use.
Approximately 22 million Americans experience sleep apnea. Sleep apnea deaths per year are estimated to be about 38000. The reason is heart disease, which gets complicated by sleep apnea. And it finally leads to death.
Other famous people who died from complications due to sleep apnea include James Gandolfini (The Sopranos), Justin Tennison (The Deadliest Catch), Comedy actor John Candy, Haris Glen, President William Howard Taft, and NFL player Reggie White.
Untreated Sleep Apnea Life Expectancy
If left untreated sleep apnea can reduce your life span. It can lead to heart disease, high blood pressure, depression, diabetes, stroke, accidents caused due to falling asleep at the wheel.
This condition is more common in men than in women. A significant sign of sleep apnea is loud snoring. About 90 million Americans suffer from snoring. And almost half of them may have sleep apnea.
Other sleep apnea symptoms include obesity, bouts of awakening during the night, persistent daytime sleepiness, and waking in the morning with a dry mouth or headache.
Though these symptoms may or may not be present, only a laboratory or home sleep study can show you that you suffer from sleep apnea along with the severity of the condition.
Dangers of Untreated Sleep Apnea
Untreated sleep apnea is a silent killer. Research studies have confirmed the following facts.
A Yale University study points out that people who have sleep apnea for up to five years have a thirty percent increase in developing heart disease or dying.
Sleep experts say that the more severe the sleep apnea, the higher the risk of either an attack or death. The Wisconsin Sleep Cohort followup published in sleep says that 42 percent of people with severe sleep apnea died due to heart disease.
The risk of cardiac-related death was more than five times higher in people with severe untreated sleep apnea in comparison with those who did not have sleep apnea.
How Do You Die From Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder which causes frequent pauses during breathing while you're asleep. It's often accompanied by snoring. As a result, your brain undergoes repeated moments of suffocation.
Usually, when you breathe in, air passes through your nose, mouth, back of your throat and down into the lungs. The reverse process occurs when you breathe out. In case of obstructive sleep apnea, your airway gets blocked despite efforts to breathe.
The air passages are blocked, especially when sleeping on the back. If the muscles surrounding the airway are stable, then the collapse does not occur.
If you suffer from OSA your soft tissues of the throat collapse. As a result, the air does not reach the lungs.
When your lungs don't get the required amount of air, the level of oxygen in the blood decreases, and the level of carbon dioxide increases.
When your oxygen levels drop, there is a surge in the levels of hormones such as adrenaline and cortisone. These hormones contribute to irregularities of the heart. They cause or increase the risk of heart failure, trigger heart attacks and, even sudden death.
Severe Sleep Apnea
The severity of sleep apnea varies . Based on the apnea-hypopnea index (AHI), sleep apnea is classified as follows.
Mild - 5-15 occurrences per hour
Moderate - 15-30 events per hour
Severe-More than 30 occurrences per hour
Also, it is essential to understand the degree of the oxygen deprivation that occurs with these events. When oxygen levels fall below ninety percent, it is called hypoxemia. Chronic oxygen deprivation may lead to both short term and long term effects and , death.
How to Stop Snoring
The National Sleep Foundation discusses a series of options to stop snoring. These methods are as follows.
Lifestyle modifications - It includes losing weight, quitting smoking, avoiding alcohol, sedatives, and sleeping pills. Also, avoiding large meals, dairy, and soy milk which makes snoring worse.
Using Anti-snoring devices such as mouthpieces and mouth guards. The best in the market is VitalSleep. It offers a customizable fit which you can adjust with an Allen wrench.
Trying out CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure Appliance) which blows air into the back of the throat and prevent it from collapse.
Surgery - It is done on the back of the throat, or the roof of the mouth, or nose using a variety of instruments including laser, scalpel or microwaves.
Making small changes to your routine such as elevating your head while sleeping, sleeping on your sides, clearing nasal passages and keeping your bedroom moist using a humidifier could help.
Never dismiss breathing disturbances during sleep as inconsequential because it may lead to severe problems later. Talk to your doctor and get the sleep apnea treatment you need to breathe and enjoy a peaceful slumber.