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Sleep apnea: a lethal cardiac twist.

Sleep apnea: A lethal cardiac twist

Adults with a disorder called obstructive sleep apnea may face an increased threat of death from heart disease, report Bernard Burack, Danuta L. Rozycki and their colleagues at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City.

This sleep disorder typically interrupts breathing at night and can awaken its sufferers as often as five times an hour, leading to extreme daytime sleepiness, Rozycki says. Despite the loud snoring accompanying the apnea, many people don't recognize the condition, which affects about 2 million individuals in the United States.

The New York researchers studied 223 men and women with obstructive sleep apnea, tracking all participants for at least five years and 43 individuals for a decade or longer. During the study, the investigators recorded 35 deaths, 23 of which resulted from heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular conditions. Statistical analysis revealed that people with obstructive sleep apnea faced double the average risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.

The scientists can't completely explain the heightened risk, but Rozycki speculates that frequent nighttime awakenings may place extra strain on the heart.
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Author:Fackelmann, Kathy A.
Publication:Science News
Date:Nov 24, 1990
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