New Delhi: A host of common health issues, including depression, hypertension, diabetes, heart attack and stroke, could merely be a consequence of lack of proper sleep due to sleep apnea, medical experts say.
However, the number of people who consult specialists for disorders like sleep apnea is relatively less in the country due to lack of awareness among the patients as well as among physicians. But the number is likely to rise many folds due to the increasing cases of obesity and pollution, they said.
Sleep Apnea, as defined by World Health Organisation (WHO), is a disorder marked by frequent pauses in breathing during sleep usually accompanied by loud snoring. These pauses cut off the oxygen supply to the body for a few seconds and halt the removal of carbon dioxide. As a result of this, the brain briefly wakes one up, re-opens the airways and re-starts breathing.
This can occur many times during the night and makes proper sleep impossible and lead to excessive daytime sleepiness, difficulty in concentrating or headaches, while at night, snoring is the most common feature.
“About five per cent people in Delhi-NCR are likely to have sleep apnea. It is a common problem in middle-aged people whose BMI (body-mass index) is high, neck is thick, who snort, feel sleepy during the daytime, whose blood pressure is slightly high and they are early diabetic,” Dr Ashok Rajput, pulmonologist and sleep specialist, Venkateshwar Hospital, Dwarka, said.
“One may be physically asleep but their brain keeps functioning. So when you wake up, you don’t feel fresh or rejuvenated. You fall asleep while sitting or driving. It also leads to hypoxia which results in high blood pressure, cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases, and later diabetes and even heart attacks or brain stroke,” Rajput said.
Dr Vikas Mittal, pulmonologist and sleep specialist at Max Saket, said the number of patients with sleep apnea is very less at present primarily because of less awareness among the people and the physicians.
“OSA (obstructive sleep apnea), however, is a major health concern in the West where the number of obese people is high and we can extrapolate from the fact that the rise in cases of obesity in the country will certainly lead to more cases of sleep apnea,” Mittal said.