If you have ever fainted or felt extremely light-headed you know how helpless that feeling is. You may black out which can be dangerous depending on where you are at or what you are doing (especially if you are driving). Falling can also be a result of fainting which may lead to serious injuries. It seems that sleep apnea and fainting do have a connection considering the causes of fainting and what sleep apnea does to your heart and general health.
What is fainting?
According to Wikipedia fainting (syncope) is “a sudden, usually temporary, loss of consciousness generally caused by insufficient oxygen in the brain either through cerebral hypoxia or through hypotension, but possibly for other reasons.” So there is a lack of oxygen in the brain that causes fainting (although that isn’t the only cause of fainting) which certainly makes it understandable that sleep apnea could be connected to fainting because the obstruction of the airway in the back stops oxygen from flowing in the body and the brain.
Another important finding coming from the National Institute of Health concerning syncope and sleep apnea…
“A 73-year-old man who had recurrent episodes of syncope. An extensive work-up, including cardiac and neurologic consultations, failed to identify the cause. An objective sleep evaluation led to the diagnosis of sleep apnea. Accordingly, the patient was treated with continuous positive airway pressure, which resolved the syncopal episodes. This case report generates a potentially important hypothesis that recurrent syncope may be effectively treated, in part, by correcting apnea. In patients with recurrent syncope of unknown etiology, a diagnosis of sleep apnea should be considered.”
So it sounds like fainting unrelated to heart problems can be solved by curing sleep apnea at least in this case.
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