We had a lovely friend, Steve swing by recently to trial our CPAP machines for sleep apnea…
Strange thing is….he looks perfectly healthy!
Lean and in shape
Doesn’t have heart conditions
He does however complain of sleep anpea tiredness and him and his dad both snore the house down!
Considering all the rah rah around how bad sleep apnea is on life expectancy (reduced by up to 15 yrs), and blood pressure (increased)…I did some research into why this happens and whether our friend is at risk
The reduced life expectancy is believed to be the stress caused by frequent wake-sleep-wake cycles and the cortisol response (stress hormone).
This also leads to the second issue: frequent “jump starts” to the nervous system causes a constant state of red alert constricting blood vessels and spiking blood pressure.
It gets worse…people with apnea tend to have lower reserves of nitric oxide and this is the exact thing that reverses constricted blood vessels. Side note: nitrix oxide helps men get erections. Apneic men often suffer erectile dysfunction. Go figure..
nitrix oxide helps men get erections. Apneic men often suffer erectile dysfunction
What are the stats?
Apneic people suffer
140% more risk for heart failure
60% more risk for stroke
30% more risk for a coronary
If I may indulge….30 years ago there was an interesting study done: apneic patients that chose to undergo a tracheostomy (that classic move you seen in medical shows where they cut a hole in your throat/or stab with a pen depending on your gore tolerance) saw their apnea go, but so did any atrial fibrillation (a heart condition), blood pressure normalized, and they lived ten years longer than their counterparts who opted out.
So back to our mate Steve, he chose the less gory route of using our CPAP machine and unbelievably his AHI score went from 30 down to 5. That’s a total normalization of his apnea! Not surpringly he felt energetic!
Moral of the story:
If you snore, get checked for sleep apnea-its a simple $99 overnight test done at home
If you are overweight, try lose 10% and that can have dramatic improvements to apnea
If your bed partner gasps for air at night and snores it could be a sign…get them tested!
Think snoring was just a harmless nuisance? Think again.
Snoring is one possible sign of sleep apnoea (in Greek apnoia means ‘breathless’): a condition where you can stop breathing for anywhere between 10 seconds up to 1 minute!
Why should you care if you or your partner snores? Imagine holding your breath for a minute…….doable but not easy right? Now imagine all that oxygen you missed out on, depriving your organs of this essential molecule. The brain and heart suffer most when this happens.
It isn’t any wonder that sufferers experience fatigue, poor mental focus, daytime sleepiness and waking up un-refreshed.
Long term, the stress on the heart and brain leads to high blood pressure (7-fold higher risk)
This is what Wikipedia says: Sleep apnea can affect people regardless of sex, race, or age. However, risk factors include:
an age above 40
large neck size (greater than 16–17 inches)
enlarged tonsils or tongue
small jaw bone
a family history of sleep apnea
A simple home test can help determine if you have sleep apnoea. Our pharmacist will help set up the kit and all you need to do is go home, hook up, and press a button. The test looks for hours slept, number of times you woke, and then give us a print out at the end when you return the kit.
Q: When you’re sick who do you turn to first? Your wife/husband? Friend? Dr Google? GP?
As a pharmacist, we can be the first point of call to help triage (determine) the severity of your condition. We’re trained to look at minor ailments like colds/cuts/burns…and to know when to refer on to a doctor/hospital.
With your permission I’d like to share 7 Things (help, advice, services) you can get from a good pharmacy:
Medical Certificates: yes you’ve seen the 4 Corners Show. We CAN write you medical certificates for minor things like colds/flu/sprained ankle/chickenpox/headlice etc.. Handy Tip: bring your driver licence and/or Medicare as ID
Fit For Work/School Certificates: ahuh we hear you…but if your child has had head lice or chickenpox, chances are they won’t be allowed back to school unless a certificate has been issued.
Consumer Medicine Information (CMI) printouts: so you’ve got a script from the doctor but you’re unsure whether to start them. Come into any pharmacy and the pharmacist can answer any of your questions. They will even print you a CMI containing important stuff like: how it works, when to take it, what to do if you missed a dose, and side effects. Handy TIP: the choice to start a medication is yours entirely. Sometimes getting a second opinion from another doctor is helpful-but beware delaying therapy in serious conditions can have its own harm.
Vaccinations: not all pharmacists are up-skilled to do this but the ones that do can administer flu shots. Handy Tip: Best time to book in is around April which gives you body’s immune system time to develop
Practitioner-Range Supplements: these pharmacy strength vitamins are usually kept behind the counter and out of view. Good pharmacies with staff trained in holistic health can offer a more tailored supplement to suit all manner of conditions (anxiety, adrenal fatigue, under-active thyroid, blood circulation, menopausal symptoms, etc). Handy Tip: Ask your pharmacist if they have a “practitioner range” of supplements. Note: Someone brands require a prescription from your doctor/naturopath.
Sleep tests: does your loved one freak you out every time they sleep? Do they wake up gasping for air? Get a home-sleep-kit that tests for possible sleep apnea. Left untreated it can stress your heart and shorten life expectancy. Handy Tip: if you are overweight, have diabetes, and/or a heart condition, ask about your risk.
Allied health: ever had a problem but didn’t know where to start? pharmacists can point you in the right direction saving you unnecessary detours in the health system. Back problem not going away? Maybe straight to the physiotherapist is best. Something wrong with the eye? An optometrist can use tools to take a closer look inside as well as write scripts.
Well that’s it from us!
Vien LeTran (Pharmacist)
PS. Remember, help is just a phone call away: (02) 8068 7131. Ask for Nina or myself =)