March 22, 2012

Maury Regional Medical Center informs community on sleep disorders


COLUMBIA, Tenn. — Maury Regional Medical Center (MRMC) wants the public to know about the health risks related to obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Snoring may provide some humorous moments in movies and TV sitcoms, but failure to get a good night’s sleep can have a serious impact on a person’s health.

OSA is a common sleep disorder that occurs when tissues in the throat block a person’s airway as they sleep. The disorder can cause the person to quit breathing multiple times during the course of one night. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, OSA can cause hypertension by increasing a person’s blood pressure. OSA can increase a person’s risk for heart attack and other forms of heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States. Because blood flow to the brain is interrupted when a person with OSA stops breathing, the disorder can also increase the risk for stroke.

“When you have OSA, your breathing is continually interrupted as you sleep. This not only disrupts your sleep cycle, but can also cause changes in your blood pressure and oxygen levels,” said Ted Bradshaw, coordinator of the Sleep Center at MRMC. “High blood pressure, stroke and heart disease are among the health risks for people who suffer from OSA.”

The National Institute of Health estimates that more than 12 million Americans are affected by sleep apnea, many of whom are undiagnosed. Men are twice as likely to suffer from OSA as women; however, the disorder becomes more prevalent for women after menopause. Children with large tonsils or adenoids may also suffer from OSA.

Warning signs of OSA include:

  • Loud snoring
  • Choking sounds while sleeping
  • Interruptions in breathing during sleep
  •     Sleepiness during the daytime


“Sleep apnea is often associated with loud snoring and daytime drowsiness. However, unlike simple snoring, sleep apnea is a potentially life-threatening condition,” said Bradshaw. “Nearly everyone will at times experience a sleepless night, but if you have trouble sleeping on a regular basis or suffer from symptoms of sleep apnea, please see your physician. Treatment is available and it can make a real difference in your life.”

Simple lifestyle changes may help control mild to moderate cases of OSA. Bradshaw recommends losing weight, quitting smoking and not consuming alcohol or sedatives right before bedtime, which can cause the tissues of the throat to sag and further restrict breathing. More information may be obtained by calling 931.490.REST (7378)