Mon | Feb 19, 2018

Obesity can cause sleep apnea - expert

Published:Thursday | February 1, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Consultant cardiologist at the Heart Foundation of Jamaica, Dr Marilyn Lawrence-Wright.

The Heart Foundation of Jamaica is encouraging persons to be aware of the connection between overweight/obesity and sleep apnea, which can affect your health.

Consultant cardiologist at the foundation, Dr Marilyn Lawrence-Wright, said that obstructive sleep apnea is directly related to overweight and obesity.

"We do know that the cardiovascular risk is increased in these patients. They are more predisposed to arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats) and they can be predisposed to sudden death," she said.

Dr Lawrence-Wright pointed out that one of the more common ones is atrial fibrillation, which, if undetected, increases the risk of forming clots in the heart, which can predispose persons to having a stroke.

"Sleep apnea is a respiratory condition in which the airways close down while you are sleeping. The breathing rate slows or the person stops breathing completely; oxygen level goes down and it increases cardiovascular risk," she explained.

Dr Lawrence-Wright warned that persons do not have to be obese to have sleep apnea, and pointed out that an increase in body mass improves the risk and severity of the condition.

She said persons should look out for the signs of sleep apnea, such as snoring, morning headaches and daytime somnolence (sleepiness).

Dr Lawrence-Wright explained that the sleepy feelings come about when sleep is interrupted throughout the night.

"As oxygen level falls, it lessens the depth of your sleep, and very often persons with sleep apnea are sleepy during the day. If they are sitting unengaged they will fall asleep very easily" she said.

Heart Month will be observed during the month of February with a focus on healthy nutrition.