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Sleep Apnea and Related Health Problems, With Dr. Stephen Gillespie, Gillespie Dentistry, Vancouver, Washington

People become aware they may have sleep apnea because of the heavy snoring and daytime sleepiness concerns.  Their quality of life is often compromised, so they're seeking answers, says Dr. Stephen Gillespie, Gillespie Dentistry in Vancouver, Washington. 

Sleep apnea happens when the airway that brings the oxygen to the lungs is compromised during sleep.  It's correctly termed obstructive sleep apnea because physically, something is blocking the normal flow of oxygen to the lungs.  It is classified as mild, moderate or severe to help identify the potential related medical problems, says Dr. Gillespie.

When the intake of oxygen to the lungs and heart is reduced, the heart must work harder to provide the oxygen that's so essential to all the tissues of the body.  As a consequence, Dr. Gillespie says, the risk of hypertension and all the other related heart problems, such as heart attacks and stroke, is increased to 45% than those without obstructive sleep apnea.

Dr. Gillespie says that no one dies from sleep apnea but rather the other related diseases.  An individual who has been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea has a death rate of related diseases of almost three times as high as those without obstructive sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea is linked to diabetes, GERD, and an increased risk of cancer, because cancer cell thrive in a poorly oxygenated environment.  Mild sleep apnea increases the cancer risk by 10% and severe sleep apnea increases that risk up to 50%, Dr. Gillespie says.

Because many of the older generation suffers from sleep apnea and dementia, there have been a couple of studies reflecting the relationship between the two, according to Dr. Gillespie.  A Stanford University study showed a correlation between the two conditions and a study at USC showed that 70% of those diagnosed with dementia had sleep apnea and that there was a strong correlation between the memory loss and the severity of sleep apnea.

Dr. Stephen Gillespie is a dentist in Vancouver, Washington, with Gillespie Dentistry.  He is a leading sleep expert with Sleep Better TV, providing online, on-demand, sleep breathing disorder video content.  Sleep Better TV is a featured network of Sequence Media Group.

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