The life-threatening consequences of obstructive sleep apnoea are caused by a lack of oxygen in the blood. Breathing is hindered or obstructed when the airways are too narrow. Consequently, too little air reaches the lungs. During these breathing pauses, the oxygen content in the blood decreases rapidly, the heart races, blood pressure increases and stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline are released.
The brain and the heart react particularly sensitively.
The lack of oxygen during sleep can lead to the death of brain cells and gradual organ damage. The brain and the heart react particularly sensitively to the lack of oxygen. “Medically relevant sleep apnoea – meaning at least five to ten breathing pauses per hour – does not only make you permanently tired, lacking in motivation and exhausted, but has serious consequences for your health,” emphasises Professor Sailer. It can encourage the development of metabolic problems such as type 2 diabetes, the risk of high blood pressure and other cardiovascular diseases or lead to impotence.