Facts about Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Here are some fact to digest about Obstructive Sleep Apnea, to start thinking about how the dots are  connected. As always, if you have any questions, please get in touch!

  • Use of benzodiazepine & narcotic medications are highly contraindicated (meaning you shouldn’t take them) in patients who also suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), many of whom are undiagnosed.
  • These sedative medications depress already strained central nervous system respiration & can easily worsen sleep-related breathing disorders (e.g. OSA). In patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or any stage of heart failure, benzodiazepines are known to have an even more significant negative affect on airway clearance and disordered breathing during sleep.
  • Moderate and severe OSA are well documented to significantly increase risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease.
  • People with OSA experience chronic intermittent hypoxia (repeated periods when the body is without oxygen) during rest. Growing bodies of evidence demonstrate that chronic intermittent hypoxia increases systemic inflammation. Systemic inflammation in the body creates a widespread, constant stress that makes the body more susceptible to disease. People with high blood pressure and uncontrolled diabetes often have markers of systemic inflammation in their blood.


“Benzodiazepines, breathing, and sleep” by C. Guilleminault
“Obstructive sleep apnea and cardiovascular risk: Meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies” by J.Y. Dong, Y.H. Zhang, and L.Q. Lin
“Chronic intermittent hypoxia and hypertension: A review of systemic inflammation and Chinese Medicine” by C.X. Wu, Y. Liu, and J.C. Zhang

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