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What are the effects of sleep apnea?

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Untreated sleep apnea causes a wide range of effects on the human body, including cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, depression and headaches. With sleep apnea, the individual stops breathing, sometimes hundreds of times per night, which robs the brain, heart and body of oxygen. Apnea is a serious sleep disorder, according to WebMD.

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Mayo Clinic reports that sleep apnea causes increased hypertension and other heart-related diseases. The sudden drop in oxygen levels in the blood that occurs when the sufferer stops breathing often increases blood pressure. Even if blood pressure remains normal, there is an increased risk of stroke. The condition also increases the risk of congestive heart failure, atrial fibrillation and other vascular diseases.

According to WebMD, untreated sleep apnea affects the individual's performance on the job and in school. The symptoms of ADHD grow worse due to sleep interruptions, leading to underachievement by children and teens. Drivers with sleep apnea have an increased risk of accidents.

The American Sleep Apnea Association indicates that this condition affects as many as 18 million Americans. It is as common as Type II diabetes in the United States and more common among men than in women. African Americans and Hispanics are at a higher risk for sleep apnea than others. With proper diagnosis, treatment options are available.

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