The following tidbit of medical information comes under the heading “everything is connected”. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) has shown to be associated with many other conditions including: stroke, high blood pressure and cardiac rhythm problems. Many of the problems associated with OSA are due to the periodic reduction in oxygen levels at night while the patient is sleeping. These periodic dips in oxygen concentration can be severe and may lead to many of the complications listed and more.
The periodic reduction in oxygen levels that occur in patients with OSA may be associated with serious inflammation of the inner lining of our blood vessels. One of the strange connections OSA has to other organ dysfunction is so-called non alcoholic fatty liver disease. This type of liver disease is made worse if you are obese. The obesity worsens the sleep apnea and the liver disease which ensues and is associated with more inflammation of the inner lining of blood vessels. The basic culprit in all of this is the periodic lowering of the patient’s oxygen level which, in turn, worsens the liver disease and so forth and so on.
This vicious cycle can only be stopped if the patient loses weight and is placed on a breathing device called a CPAP machine. Making an exact diagnosis of sleep apnea and determining the pressure needed to relieve the airway obstruction not only can help the patient obtain a more restful sleep and prevent low nighttime oxygen levels, but can also prevent many complications including nonalcoholic fatty liver.