Snoring – A not so silent killer

Snoring – A not so silent killer

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a chronic condition in which the airway of the body collapses or gets blocked during sleep thus leading not only to shallow breathing but even complete pause of breathing (apnea) which could last from a few seconds to a few minutes. This condition though on outset looks simple and people attribute it to laziness but is a serious life threatening condition. It commonly affects obese individuals. The higher the weight, the greater is the risk of developing OSA.

The most common symptoms of OSA are snoring, excessive day time sleepiness, extreme fatigue, and lethargy after waking up. Individuals suffering from OSA are also at a greater risk of high blood pressure, cardiac arrhythmias, and heart failure; which when coupled with obesity, is an almost fatal concoction. Motor vehicle accidents and sudden death during sleep are the most dreaded consequences of OSA. The severity of OSA is determined by the parameters measured through a nocturnal polysomnography (sleep study test). A simple scoring system called STOP-BANG score helps to diagnose and categorise OSA.

The CPAP machine is the initial treatment for OSA. However, compliance is low, with only about 50% of patients actually using the devices regularly. Weight loss of more than 10% of body weight is required for the remission of OSA. Bariatric surgery offers one of the most robust solution for weight loss and thus resolving OSA.  Post bariatric surgery, most patients are able to wean themselves off the CPAP machine within1-3 months of surgery. Two years after bariatric surgery the remission rate of OSA is 90–95 %.

OSA is one of the many morbid conditions associated with obesity, which adds to the complications of this growing epidemic. All obese patients should necessarily be evaluated and screened for OSA; as bariatric surgery is by far the most effective solution for remission of OSA. Obese patients with OSA should consider obesity weight loss surgery as a viable treatment option and take their second chance at a better life!

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