Sleep Apnea Risk Factors and Complications

Sleep Apnea Risk Factors

Sleep apnea does more than make you sleepy. It is linked to many health conditions, such as high blood pressure and obesity. Keep reading to learn more about the types of sleep apnea, risk factors and complications.

Types of Sleep Apnea

Being aware of the different types of sleep apnea can help determine the cause of the symptoms to seek proper care.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

OSA is the most common type. It happens when there is a functional obstruction in the throat and mouth. The lungs normally function, and the body is trying to breathe. However, it’s difficult to get adequate air through the upper airway with ease.

Complex Sleep Apnea Syndrome

This type of sleep apnea combines central sleep apnea and OSA. Patients with this syndrome have persistent breathing problems, even after resolving airway obstruction, meaning something aside from collapsing throat muscles is responsible for the apnea.

Central Sleep Apnea

Central sleep apnea is harder to treat and diagnose because, unlike OSA, it is caused by a blocked airway. This typically happens because the brain isn’t sending proper signals to the muscles responsible for controlling breathing.

Risk Factors of Sleep Apnea

Anybody can develop obstructive sleep apnea; however, a few factors can increase the risk. Here are some of them:

Upper Airway Abnormalities

Popular risk factors are large, upper, soft tissue structures, reduced craniofacial structure size, and increased upper airway fat tissues. Magnetic resonance imaging can examine all of them.

Family History

Studies claim that OSA is about 60% lifestyle and 40% genetics. 


Although sleep apnea can happen at all ages, adults older than 60 have an increased risk of developing the condition. As the body ages, the muscles weaken, and airways become more collapsible, causing snoring and sleep apnea.


Sinus problems can cause difficulty breathing when sleeping, so people diagnosed with chronic sinusitis without necessary treatment can grow to develop sleep apnea.


Serious, potential complications to untreated and undiagnosed sleep apnea exist aside from interrupted sleep. Here is a look at some of the more common complications.

Untreated sleep apnea can negatively affect heightened blood pressure, insulin resistance, and cardiovascular disease. Long-term sleep interruption can also increase cancer risk.

OSA’s major consequence is impaired cognitive function. Also, several studies show that OSA can lead to deficits in memory, attention and other functions due to lack of sleep, stress and depression.

Prolonged sleep deprivation is also linked to increased risk for stroke, heart attack and heart disease. Also, repetitive breathing pauses brought on by sleep apnea can damage and stress the heart and the entire cardiovascular system.

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that can cause heart problems, high blood pressure and other health issues. Fortunately, it can be treated, and Dr. Samuel Cress, DDS can help. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.