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It seems like the effects of low blood oxygen resulting from untreated apnea are not as fully appreciated as they ought to be. Even many medical professionals think of apnea as a "sleep" disorder. Not to diminish the effects of chronic sleep deprivation over months and years (apnea victims get zero clinical sleep), the effects of chronic blood oxygen deprivation can be much worse.

There is no stronger signal to the brain than low blood oxygen. That means, quite literally, that death is imminent and all hades breaks loose. The body shunts off oxygen from everywhere except the brain, the panic hormones start flying, and your sympathetic nervous system goes into a Code Red panic. You start breathing, oxygen is restored, and the cycle repeats itself dozens or hundreds of times a night.

All of this wreaks havoc on the body. The panic hormones cause high blood pressure (including stroke) and put extraordinary stress on the heart in a low oxygen environment (resuting in, yes, heart disease). Low nighttime blood oxygen interferes with normal blood glucose processing, resulting in the overproduction of insulin and, yes, insulin resistance (also known as Type II Diabetes). The lack of blood oxygen also interferes with nighttime digestion, resulting in GERD. And who knows what all of these risk factors mean in terms of triggering diseases like cancer (my grandfather, who unknowingly suffered from apnea his entire adult life, died from colon cancer but I can't help but wonder whether the apnea somehow triggered that?). And to top it all off, the physical damage in combination with chronic sleep deprivation results in a scale of depression that cannot be described except by those who have experienced it. And I haven't even talked about all of the death and carnage on the highways from apnea-related drowsy driving.

So long story short, this is a serious condition that has a lot more to it than just SLEEP. Figuring out your therapy is worth everything you will ever put into it.

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Amen.
Great post Sleepguy!!

You are so right about the long term risks and the doubly "whammy" since it deals with a lot more than just sleep!!
I agree that desaturations are a serious problem.

But there are some of us who have no desaturations and still have severe sleep apnea problems. A much overlooked problem is the elevated intracranial brain pressure arising from an apnea.

This is in some cases a more serious problem than desaturations. But there are almost no sleep doctors who focus on this problem.

This is not an either or issue. I think that many people have both problems.

Elevated intracranial pressure is particularly associated with Sleep Apnea and studies shows that 68% of people with Stokes have Sleep Apnea and elevated intracranial pressure.
Sleepyguy. Who are you I need to know more. I can't keep my Oyg. up very high. I got to go back to the Doctor Friday. I have an in larged heart. And other things going on. G
Henning, this is the very first time I've ever heard about intracranial pressure. What's the causal link to apnea? Low blood oxygen obviously impacts the brain as well. Even though it gets priority to available oxygen, levels are low and brain damage (I believe) is common. One of the doctors here on the forum (Dr Park) had an interesting article on his website about a possible connection between apnea and anzhymers as they both cause very similar miscroscopic brain damage.

Jerry, it sounds like you're doing the right thing. Whatever it takes to get your therapy working. It's no wonder that apnea causes heart disease because the body forces it into a panic with hormones but in an oxygen deprived state. That's bound to kill heart tissue after 7 or 8 hours a day for months or years on end. Hang in there my friend. Whatever it takes to get it figured out will be worth it because it appears that the untreated apnea is probably the root of your heart problem.
Sleepguy,
you can read my story in this discussion “Apnea pressure, harmful effects on your health”:
http://www.sleepguide.com/forum/topics/apnea-pressure-harmful-effec...

Henning

Sleepguy said:
Henning, this is the very first time I've ever heard about intracranial pressure. What's the causal link to apnea? Low blood oxygen obviously impacts the brain as well. Even though it gets priority to available oxygen, levels are low and brain damage (I believe) is common. One of the doctors here on the forum (Dr Park) had an interesting article on his website about a possible connection between apnea and anzhymers as they both cause very similar miscroscopic brain damage.

"What we haven't known as well is whether or not c-pap benefits the heart," said Subha Raman, M.D., Ohio State University Medical Center.

Doctors at Ohio State University Medical Center decided to find out. They took MRI's of patients to get a good idea of the size and shape of theirs hearts when they were first diagnosed. Then patients were given c-pap masks to sleep in. After several weeks they came back for another MRI, and doctors were surprised by what they saw.

"We saw that before treatment, the heart was enlarged," said Raman. "But after three months of careful use of their c-pap, we saw a reduction in the enlargement of the heart."

In all, experts say of the 13 patients who tried it, there were "significant" changes in the right ventricle of the heart, which means this mask not only helps with sleep disorders but may be helping doctors get to the heart of much more serious problems as well.

Doctors say if left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to high blood pressure and increase your risk of diabetes or having a stroke.

http://www.wrcbtv.com/Global/story.asp?S=9866673

So the body makes the heart go like mad through hormones at exactly the same time that the blood has no oxygen. Sounds kind of like jogging with a bag over your head. Now wonder apnea results in heart disease!
One of my biggest complaints for a long time with my OSA, is that my head feels "pressure" (for lack of a better way to describe it). It's not pain like a headache, but it can feel pretty bad, making me sleepy, and wanting to lie down. This "intracraneial pressure" you are talking about here: can you feel it? Does anyone else have this head problem? It's worse at night, as I am trying to fall asleep, but can bother me all day. Exercise helps, and fun activity.

Henning said:
Sleepguy,
you can read my story in this discussion “Apnea pressure, harmful effects on your health”:
http://www.sleepguide.com/forum/topics/apnea-pressure-harmful-effec...

Henning

Sleepguy said:
Henning, this is the very first time I've ever heard about intracranial pressure. What's the causal link to apnea? Low blood oxygen obviously impacts the brain as well. Even though it gets priority to available oxygen, levels are low and brain damage (I believe) is common. One of the doctors here on the forum (Dr Park) had an interesting article on his website about a possible connection between apnea and anzhymers as they both cause very similar miscroscopic brain damage.

bump

Great post, Sleepguy. Thanks!

Interesting posting.   It would certainly explain why I often wake up feeling a combination of agitated, nervous, and tired.   I've certainly never doubted the seriousness of oxygen deprivation, but just the proper treatment.

thank you for that post.  I think many dont understand that apnea is more than just sleep deprivation.

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