Can Sleep Apnea Actually Kill You?

March 15, 2024

Have you or anyone you know not been able to snooze due to sleep apnea? Well, we understand that it is not something easy to deal with, especially because it lowers the quality of your life. If you are new to this, thinking about its seriousness and the issues with leaving it untreated is common. So, wondering if sleep apnea can kill you in your sleep? Let’s find out.

Is Untreated Sleep Apnea Fatal?

OSA – Obstructive sleep apnea increases the risk of sudden cardiac death multifolds in individuals that have crossed the age of 60 with low oxygen levels.

While it is a rare occurrence, sleep apnea may kill you if breathing does not resume after a pause due to sleep apnea.

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of this condition is crucial for accurate evaluation and treatment. Timely medical intervention for obstructive sleep apnea enhances nighttime oxygen levels that can prevent it from killing you.

What Are the Risks of Untreated Sleep Apnea?

  • High Blood Pressure: Letting sleep apnea take its natural course can worsen hypertension, increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke.
  • Heart Disease: Sleep apnea increases the risk of cardiovascular issues, including heart failure and irregular heartbeats.
  • Stroke: A strain on the cardiovascular system can increase the incidence of an attack that may lead to sleep apnea, killing you.
  • Type 2 Diabetes: Sleep apnea contributes to insulin resistance and may play a part in unlocking type 2 diabetes.
  • Pulmonary Hypertension: Episodic breathing disruptions lead to increased blood pressure in the lungs, causing pulmonary hypertension.
  • Atrial Fibrillation: An irregular heartbeat, specifically AFib (atrial fibrillation), is common in people with sleep apnea, increasing the risk of stroke.
  • Road Accidents: Excessive daytime sleepiness makes a person drowsy, which enhances the risk of accidents while driving.
  • Poor Quality of Life: Sleep apnea can impact daily functioning, mood, and overall quality of life.

Signs of Sleep Apnea

The main signs of sleep apnea are:

  • Disruptions in breathing during sleep
  • Waking up gasping for air or choking
  • Unusual sounds while sleeping
  • Frequent daytime fatigue
  • Waking up unrefreshed
  • Falling asleep during daytime
  • Morning headaches
  • Tossing and turning during sleep
  • Behavioral changes
  • Difficulty concentration during the day
  • Urinating frequently during the night

When to See a Doctor?

Sleep apnea is characterized by episodic disruptions in breathing that make one not feel well rested in the morning or increased incidences of daytime fatigue. All of these changes decrease the quality of life. Therefore, keep an eye on your symptoms and let your doctor know in case of severe disturbances. Prompt treatment can prevent chronic disease and other complications.

Closing Note

Your healthcare specialists can diagnose sleep apnea with the help of a sleep study. Some of these studies are done at specialized sleep centers or those clinics/hospitals that offer sleep apnea treatment.

If you have more questions in mind, feel free to contact our experienced team led by Dr. Vikram Shad, doctor of dental medicine from The University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, and Dr. Avni Goel from Temple University in Philadelphia at Insight Dental Group to guide you through sleep apnea management we offer. Reach out to us at (713) 623-0700 to request an appointment today.



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