Sleep apnea increases risk for stroke, vascular dementia, high blood pressure
Sleep apnea is dangerous because it can increase a person's risk for high blood pressure, stroke and vascular dementia. When a person repeatedly stops breathing during the night, the lowered oxygen levels can have negative effects on the heart and brain. Many people don't know they have sleep apnea and therefore don't realize they are at increased risk for serious health problems, explains neurologist Antonio Culebras, MD. He says about 75 percent of people who are hospitalized after a stroke have sleep apnea, and half either did not know they had sleep apnea or did not have the disorder under control. Culebras is the director of medical neurology for the Upstate Sleep Center. He details the symptoms of sleep apnea and tells what people can do to reduce their risk of developing it.