Beware of sleep apnea! This condition, in fact, not only increases the risk of hypertension, cardiovascular disease and diabetes but makes us age faster, surpassing our chronological age. However, the good news is that treatments to reduce sleep apnea can reverse this process. All this emerges from a very recent scientific research that appeared in the European Respiratory Journal thanks to the work of an American team from the University of Missouri (Cortese et al, European Respiratory Journal, 2022).
The problem of sleep apnea
It is estimated that more than 25% of the adult population suffers from sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a temporary interruption of breathing during sleep caused by total or partial obstruction of the airways. Sufferers often don't notice anything but may experience daytime sleepiness and decreased concentration. But this is not the only problem. In fact, sleep apnea, if left untreated, opens the way to conditions such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. From today we know that sleep apnea also makes us age faster.
Sleep apnea accelerates aging processes
Blood tests to study DNA and the use of algorithms allow us to evaluate biological age, which is not the chronological age, but the true age of our body. Smoking, pollution or an unbalanced diet can increase our biological age compared to the chronological one, accelerating the aging process. Until now, the role of sleep apnea was not known on biological age, but now it is known that this condition contributes to increasing how quickly we age, as evidenced by the American study carried out on a sample of 24 people, 16 with sleep apnea and 8 without. The volunteers were followed for a year, during which a part of those suffering from sleep apnea were given the opportunity to treat this disorder through CPAP, which is a device that delivers a constant flow of air and that should be worn during night rest. What emerged is that sleep apnea, in addition to disturbing sleep, reduces oxygen levels, promoting an acceleration in the aging process. However, it also emerged that those who had joined the sleep apnea treatment aged more slowly than the others, thus demonstrating that the acceleration of aging induced by sleep apnea is reversible.
Sleep apneas are therefore not just a nuisance but a real condition that requires intervention, to improve one's quality of life and health and reverse the triggered process that would lead us to age, and get sick, faster. We have dedicated several articles to sleep apnea and showed that there are several actions to counter this condition, such as diet, quitting smoking, avoiding alcohol, some exercises for strengthening the muscles of the airways or even devices such as nasal patches or CPAP, to be evaluated with your doctor.