National sleep expert, Dr. Avi Weisfogel, founder of Dental Sleep Masters says about four percent of all adults suffer from an obstructive sleep apnea, and in men over 40, the figure climbs to 20 percent. In women over 50, it occurs 10 to 15 percent. Why is inhaling and exhaling during the night becoming a big health concern? Avi Weisfogel says obstructive sleep apnea is much more than an inconvenient night of sleep.
Dr. Weisfogel, a dentist in Old Bridge New Jersey, began researching the sleep disturbance more than a decade ago, after noticing many of his dental patients had telltale signs of the condition.
Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) occurs when people simply stop breathing at night – sometimes almost imperceptibly for a few seconds, sometimes more than a minute. Then the breathing begins again, usually with a loud snore, until the next occurrence. The people concerned do not notice this, except that the next morning they feel fatigued, which last all day.
When Nocturnal Breathing Stops
When the upper pharynx muscles relax during sleep the tongue falls back, and the airways narrow. Less air passes because of the narrowing of the throat, and at intermittent times, no air will pass through. This can happen up to 100 times a night. It occurs so quickly, the body is alerted to the absence of air exchange, but the individual is not fully awake, and isn’t aware of what is happening. This increases stress on the heart, increasing blood pressure, and greatly increasing long-term cardiovascular risk.
The sleep apnea has no single cause, but different risk factors favor the development of the condition:
• 80 percent are usually overweight
• Many have high blood pressure
• Anatomical features such as enlarged tonsils, a large tongue or a bad nasal breathing can play a negative role
Dr. Avi Weisfogel says overall, untreated sleep apnea shortens the life expectancy by about ten years. Since the oxygen content in the blood drops at each respiratory standstill, the heart has to work more intensively to cover the oxygen requirement in the body. Weisfogel has served as a sleep expert for over a decade. He’s become a widely known leader in the field of sleep disorders, and his organization, Dental Sleep Masters is widely recognized for instructing the dental industry on evaluating and treating the sleep apnea.
Weisfogel says individuals complaining of fatigue or have snoring concerns should be evaluated for sleep apnea.