What are the health implications of obstructive sleep apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea has a profound impact on an individual's health. Excessive daytime sleepiness caused by disruption of normal sleep patterns leads to a significant increase in the rate of accidents for obstructive sleep apnea patients, including a sevenfold increase in automobile accidents. Over the long term, obstructive sleep apnea is associated with greater risk of hypertension and cardiovascular disease and the National Commission on Sleep Disorders Research estimates that 38,000 cardiovascular deaths due to sleep apnea occur each year.

In addition, loud snoring and intermittent breathing interruptions can affect the quality of sleep of the obstructive sleep apnea patient's bedpartner. Witnessing an apnea can be a frightening experience because the obstructive sleep apnea patient appears to be suffocating. Frequently, it is a sleep-deprived bedpartner who convinces the apneic patient to seek medical help.