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Reference Information

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a disorder in which a person stops breathing during the night, perhaps hundreds of times.

These gaps in breathing are called apneas.

The word apnea means absence of breath. An obstructive apnea episode is defined as the absence of airflow for at least 10 seconds.

Sleep apnea is usually accompanied by snoring, disturbed sleep, and daytime sleepiness. People might not even know they have the condition.

Common sleep apnea symptoms include:
  • Waking up with a very sore and/or dry throat
  • Loud snoring
  • Occasionally waking up with a choking or gasping sensation
  • Sleepiness or lack of energy during the day
  • Sleepiness while driving
  • Morning headaches
  • Restless sleep
  • Forgetfulness, mood changes, and a decreased interest in sex
  • Recurrent awakenings or insomnia

Researchers in Spain followed thousands of patients at sleep clinics and found that those with the most severe forms of sleep apnea had a 65 percent greater risk of developing cancer of any kind. The second study, of about 1,500 government workers in Wisconsin, showed that those with the most breathing abnormalities at night had five times the rate of dying from cancer as people without the sleep disorder. Both research teams only looked at cancer diagnoses and outcomes in general, without focusing on any specific type of cancer.

After controlling for age, race, body mass index, education level, smoking status, the presence of diabetes or hypertension, and the use of antidepressants and other medicines, the women with sleep-disordered breathing at the start of the study were 85 percent more likely to have mild cognitive impairment or dementia after five years than those whose nighttime breathing was normal.

Men and women who said they snorted/stopped breathing at least five nights per week were three times more likely to show signs of major depression, compared to those who said they never snorted or stopped breathing during sleep. That takes into consideration other factors, such as weight, age, sex, and race.
Possible explanations for the link between sleep-disordered breathing and depression include diminished oxygen to the brain and interrupted sleep.

ARES™ Unicorder provides acceptably accurate estimates of Sleep Disordered Breathing indices compared to conventional laboratory nocturnal polysomnography for both the simultaneous and in-home ARES™ data. The high sensitivity, specificity, and positive and negative likelihood ratios obtained in the group we studied supports the utility of an ambulatory limited-monitoring approach not only for diagnosing sleep disordered breathing but also to rule out Sleep Disordered Breathing in suitably selected groups.

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