Skip to content

Sleep Apnea Health Center

Font Size

Sleep Apnea Complications - Topic Overview

Sleep apnea can cause you to stop breathing during sleep. When you stop breathing, the oxygen levels in your blood go down and carbon dioxide levels go up. This makes your heart and blood vessels work harder and can affect your heart rate and nervous system. This can lead to complications over time, such as:

  • Low blood oxygen levels during sleep. These low levels as well as other factors such as fragmented sleep may lead to high blood pressure in the lungs (pulmonary hypertension) and in the rest of the body (hypertension).1 Nearly 50% of people who have sleep apnea have high blood pressure.2
  • Heart failure. Changes in the body caused by sleep apnea increase the risk of heart failure.3
  • Irregular heart rhythms, such as atrial fibrillation.4
  • Coronary artery disease (CAD).
  • A greater-than-normal number of red blood cells, which may cause the blood to thicken.
  • Death caused by blood vessel disease that affects the brain or heart (stroke or heart attack).4
  • Failure to resume breathing (respiratory failure) and sudden death, especially in the early morning (very rare).

Sleep apnea can cause some of these conditions to progress more quickly and be more difficult to treat. Treating sleep apnea may help make some of these conditions less severe.

Recommended Related to Sleep Apnea

Apnea, Sleep

Important It is possible that the main title of the report Apnea, Sleep is not the name you expected. Please check the synonyms listing to find the alternate name(s) and disorder subdivision(s) covered by this report.

Read the Apnea, Sleep article > >

People with sleep apnea also may be more likely to get in a car accident due to sleepiness while driving.5

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: June 25, 2013
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
    1
    Next Article:

    Today on WebMD

    Sleep Disorders What Are They
    SLIDESHOW
    Man sleeping on plane
    SLIDESHOW
     
    Sleep Fact or Fiction Test Yourself
    QUIZ
    Woman asleep with cpap mask on.
    ARTICLE
     
    Pet scan depression
    VIDEO
    Nighttime Heartburn
    SLIDESHOW
     
    Fight Fatigue Sleepiness On The Road
    SLIDESHOW
    Sleep Apnea Appliance
    VIDEO
     
    Foods That Help Or Harm Your Sleep
    SLIDESHOW
    Sleep Apnea Clues
    FEATURE
     
    Insomnia 20 Tips For Better Sleep
    SLIDESHOW
    Breus Sleep Apnea
    VIDEO
     

    WebMD Special Sections