Friday, August 1, 2008

Sleep Disorders

Sleep apnea is a serious, potentially life-threatening condition, characterized by brief interruptions of breathing during sleep. More than 18 million Americans have sleep apnea, which may be associated with irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke.

There are two types of sleep apnea: central and obstructive. Central apnea, which is less common, occurs when the brain fails to send the appropriate signals to the breathing muscles to initiate respirations. Obstructive apnea is far more common and occurs when air cannot flow into or out of the nose or mouth, although efforts to breathe continue.

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