Sleep Apnea Risks & Factors

Sleep apnea is a very serious yet common condition that many suffer from, yet it also remains undiagnosed and untreated in many adults. Experts estimate the prevalence of obstructive sleep apnea to be approximately 4% to 9% in middle-aged adults. And yes, the risk factors that cause sleep apnea can be hereditary. Read on to learn what sleep apnea is and what causes it, as well as sleep apnea treatment options.

For sleep apnea treatment in New York City, Sleep MD offers the state of the art procedures and equipment to help you on your way to recovery.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Also known as obstructive sleep apnea, this condition happens when breathing repeatedly stops for 10 seconds or more during sleep. This causes a decreased flow of oxygen to the blood and can cause people to awaken during sleep throughout the night.

There are a variety of causes for sleep apnea. The most common cause of obstructive sleep apnea in adults is obesity, as it affects the soft tissue in the mouth and throat. The throat and tongue muscles are more relaxed when we sleep, and excessive soft tissue can cause the airway to become blocked.

Hereditary Factors

There are other causes of obstructive sleep apnea, many of them hereditary. Anatomical features such as a narrow throat, thick neck and a round head can contribute as well. Other contributing factors include hypothyroidism, allergies and a deviated septum that causes congestion in the upper airways. Other factors also include smoking, excessive alcohol use and the use of other sedatives.

If left untreated, obstructive sleep apnea can cause serious health issues such as cardiovascular disease and even become fatal. If you have any warning signs such as loud snoring and repeatedly waking up at night, schedule a consultation with Dr. Shukla immediately.

The Obesity Factor

Experts estimate that more than half of the people who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea are overweight or considered obese. This is defined as someone with a body mass index (BMI) of 25-30 or above. Men with a neck circumference of 17 inches and women with a neck circumference of 15 inches have a significantly increased risk of developing obstructive sleep apnea.


Experts estimate that at least 10% of people over age 65 have obstructive sleep apnea. This is because aging affects the brain’s ability to keep the upper airway and throat muscles stiff during sleep. Women are more likely to develop sleep apnea during pregnancy and after menopause, but obstructive sleep apnea is up to four times as common in men as in women.

Other factors that might cause obstructive sleep apnea include family history and ethnicity. Experts believe that approximately 25% to 40% of people who suffer from sleep apnea have family members with the disorder, which touches on the inherited aspect of anatomical causes of the disease. It has also been shown that African-Americans, Hispanics and Pacific Islanders are more prone to suffer from sleep apnea.

Serious Complications

Those suffering from obstructive sleep apnea can develop some extremely serious health issues such as high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, diabetes, gastroesophageal reflux disease, nocturnal angina, heart failure, hypothyroidism and an abnormal heart rhythm. All of these complications also cause the person suffering from sleep apnea to have serious daytime sleepiness, which brings with it a host of other potential issues, including depression.

Treatment options for those suffering from obstructive sleep apnea include the use of a CPAP machine, and in serious cases, surgery might be the best option to improve the symptoms and the resulting complications.

Sleep Apnea Treatment in New York City

If you find yourself waking up frequently in the night, you might suffer from a more serious sleep disorder like obstructive sleep apnea. If you think you might have a more serious sleep issue, contact Dr. Mayank Shukla at Sleep MD for a consultation. Don’t let poor sleep habits or a more serious health issue keep you from getting the rest you need.

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