November 8, 2023
Researchers estimate that 22 million Americans have sleep apnea, which is about 1 in every 15 adults. Although the sleep disorder is common, many cases are undiagnosed. Sleep apnea causes frequent pauses in breathing while sleeping, making it difficult to detect. However, symptoms of the disorder can manifest in many ways. Besides snoring and fatigue, accelerated aging has been linked to sleep apnea. Here’s how sleep apnea therapy can stop the clock.
What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
The most prevalent form of the breathing disorder is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). It occurs when the soft tissues in the back of the mouth or tongue relax and create an obstruction in the upper airway. This causes frequent breathing interruptions that deplete the body of oxygen and disrupt the sleep cycle. With no treatment, sleep apnea can increase your risk of several health problems, like cardiovascular disease and diabetes. It can also cause memory loss, depression, and sleep deprivation.
Sleep Apnea and Accelerated Aging
Researchers from the University of Missouri School of Dental Medicine have linked untreated sleep apnea to an accelerated biological aging process. The results of their study concluded that the effects can slow or possibly reverse with sleep apnea therapy.
Researchers analyzed DNA from blood samples and used an algorithm to determine a person’s biological age. Previous studies have found that chronic disease causes “epigenetic age acceleration,” which means the biological age surpasses a person’s chronological age. Results from the University of Missouri School of Dental Medicine showed low levels of oxygen and poor sleep caused by OSA promote faster biological aging. When study participants used a CPAP or an oral appliance to treat sleep apnea, it slowed age acceleration.
A study published by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine had similar findings. The results showed that each standard deviation increase in a person’s apnea-hypopnea index from sleep-disordered breathing was equivalent to 215 days of biological age acceleration. When breathing interruptions disrupt the sleep cycle, it is equivalent to 321 days of age acceleration per episode.
Stop the Clock with Sleep Apnea Therapy
You can look forward to a long, healthy life with sleep apnea therapy. You have multiple options to manage the disorder, like:
- CPAP: A CPAP machine delivers air pressure through a mask worn over the mouth or nose to stop breathing interruptions.
- Oral Appliance: An oral appliance positions the tongue and jaw to open the airway.
Your sleep specialist will create a personalized treatment plan to breathe better so you can sleep peacefully.
About Dr. Tim Bradberry
Dr. Bradberry earned his dental degree from the LECOM School of Dental Medicine and has continued his education in many specialties, like CEREC, Invisalign, dental implants, and oral appliances. Request an appointment through his website or call (904) 549-6979.
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