December 11, 2023 05:03:50

Sleep Apnea: A Sleep Disorder Affecting 104 Million Indians and Its Impact on Heart Health

Do you recall the scene from ‘Satyaprem Ki Katha’ where Kiara Advani’s character, Katha, frustrated by her husband Satyaprem’s incessant snoring, banishes him from their bedroom? Snoring during sleep may be a source of amusement in India, but it can also be a sign of a significant health issue.

According to a recent report from AIIMS (All India Institute Of Medical Sciences), approximately 104 million Indians are afflicted by sleep apnea, a sleep disorder that can result in respiratory issues during sleep, leading to snoring.

The research team, which examined seven studies spanning the past two decades, concluded that over 11 percent of Indian adults suffer from Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). Men are at a greater risk of this sleep disorder compared to women (13 percent versus 5 percent). These findings were published in the Sleep Medicine Reviews journal.

In an interview with the Times Of India, Dr. Anant Mohan, the head of the pulmonology department at AIIMS, disclosed that around 104 million Indians are living with sleep apnea, with 47 million experiencing moderate to severe OSA.

What Is Sleep Apnea?

The term ‘apnea’ originates from Greek and means ‘breathless.’ According to a Mayo Clinic report, sleep apnea is a disorder in which individuals struggle to breathe while asleep. This struggle can lead to snoring and persistent fatigue, even after a full night’s sleep.

Respiratory problems in sleep apnea can result from airway blockages (in the case of OSA) or difficulties in controlling breathing by the brain (Central Apnea).

The Potential Fatal Consequences of Sleep Apnea

Despite sleep apnea initially appearing as a mild sleep disorder, it can lead to numerous long-term health complications:

  1. Heart Failure: Chronic sleep apnea can contribute to heart problems over time, exerting pressure on heart vessels and weakening the heart.
  2. Increased Stroke Risk: Persistent sleep apnea can disrupt blood flow to the heart, potentially causing the formation of blood clots that may travel to the brain and trigger a stroke.
  3. Uncontrolled Blood Sugar Levels: OSA can lead to rapid increases in blood sugar levels, making diabetes management more challenging and increasing the risk of various comorbidities.
  4. Reduced Lifespan: Patients with chronic sleep apnea are more susceptible to sudden cardiac deaths. Additionally, individuals with OSA are at a higher risk of developing postoperative complications, some of which can be fatal.