Obesity can increase the frequency of breathing pauses that occur in people with obstructive sleep apnea. Does it also increase the severity of these breathing pauses?
A new study involved 750 adults. Their sleep was evaluated during overnight sleep studies; 37,473 breathing events were recorded.
Forty percent of participants were obese; they contributed 62 percent of the breathing events, reports MedPage Today.
Results show that body mass index (BMI) was associated with the severity of oxygen desaturation during these events. Oxygen levels dropped more severely in people who were more overweight or obese.
“Any increase in weight above a BMI of approximately 25 appears to increase the risk and severity,” lead author Paul Peppard, PhD, said in a press release.
Back sleeping was associated with more severe drops in oxygen saturation than side sleeping. Older age and smoking also predicted greater drops in oxygen levels.
The AASM reports that sleep apnea occurs when muscles relax during sleep. This causes soft tissue in the back of the throat to collapse and block the airway for 10 seconds or longer.
The breathing pause ends with a choking or snorting sound as the body briefly wakes and gasps for breath. Sleep resumes and the cycle repeats itself.
Severe sleep apnea may involve hundreds of breathing pauses in one night of sleep. Oxygen levels go up and down during these repetitive breathing pauses.
CPAP therapy is the treatment of choice for OSA. It eliminates breathing pauses during sleep and restores normal oxygen levels.
On SleepEducation.com you can learn how CPAP therapy can be a life saver for people with OSA. You also can answer these questions to learn more about your risk for sleep apnea.
Contact an AASM-accredited sleep disorders center for help with sleep apnea.