Sleep Apnea can kill you. There, I said it. I didn't want to say it, because I prefer to emphasize the positive aspects of treating Sleep Apnea rather than dwelling on the negative consequences of not treating it. But some among us will only respond to fear, so for their benefit, I'm putting this stark message "out there."
What's the proof that Sleep Apnea can kill? The study published by Terry Young, Ph.D. and her colleagues at the University of Wisconsin at Madison is particularly convincing and ominous. Back in 1988, Dr. Young rounded up a large group of randomly selected Wisconsinites (about 1,500 people) who agreed to be tested for Sleep Apnea. Dr. Young recorded not only whether they had Sleep Apnea, but also if they did, the level of Sleep Apnea severity. Dr. Young asked this group, known as her "Wisconsin Cohort" group, to agree to be tracked over the years, and they agreed. Fast forward to 2006, when Dr. Young checked in on them. After 18 years, some had passed away, some were still as healthy as they were back in 1988. The key for our purposes is that, controlling for all other factors, the folks who were identified as having severe Sleep Apnea and who did not get treatment for it were three to four times as likely as the others to die from something . . . anything, and five times more likely to die from stroke or cardiovascular disease.
So for those of you who need fear to motivate, are you afraid yet? I would be if I weren't paying attention to my treatment.