Risk of immediate cardiac death is increased by sleep apnea, as according to some long-term study which strengthens one link suspected by doctors.

Dr Apoor Gami, cardiac electrophysiologist in Midwest Heart Specialists also said that sleep apnea’s severity and presence are definitely associated with notable increase in risk of immediate cardiac death.

This new research got published online on 11th June in Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

The condition of sleep apnea occurs when someone stops to breath frequently while sleeping and it affects around 12M adults of America, even after the fact that many aren’t diagnosed. Diagnosis is done when sleep tests show that the person stops to breath for ten seconds or above that minimum 5 times hourly during his sleep.

Some research also says that the condition is increasing partly due to the current epidemic of obesity.

Abrupt cardiac death is cause of 450, 000 deaths in US per year. It occurs at the time heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops to beat due to issues with electrical system of heart. Such issues cause heartbeats to be irregular and the condition needs to be treated in a short time, few minutes, if the patient has to be saved.

The term elector-physiologist is for the cardiologists treating such problems of heart rhythm.

In early research, Gami as well as his team found that the patients who have sleep apnea and undergo the immediate cardiac death most of the times did so during night, a totally opposite pattern found in those without the condition but who suffered immediate cardiac death and according to Gami, this was f1st direct link that was found between sleep apnea and immediate cardiac death.

Researchers, in this new study, tracked above 10,000 women and men, with average age of 53, who got referred for the sleep studies in Mayo Clinic Sleep Disorders Center, mainly because of suspected condition of sleep apnea, starting from the year 1987 through the year 2003. Once sleep tests were done, 78% were suffering from sleep apnea.

In all the 15 years of follow-up, it was found 142 had immediate cardiac arrest that was either resuscitated or fatal.

According to Gami, 3 measures predicted strongly risk of immediate cardiac death. These include having twenty apnea episodes in an hour, having low levels of oxygen in blood and being sixty years of age or older.

Such saturation of oxygen drops when the air does not flow into lungs. In healthy people, ninety-five to 100% is normal. Gami said that if lowest saturation level of oxygen was 78% or below, the risk associated with immediate cardiac death rose by 80%. He also said that 20 events in an hour could be termed as moderate level of sleep apnea.

It is only the link that was found by Game, not any relation of cause and its effects. He cannot explain it with much certainty though many explanations are possible.

According to an electrophysiologist, Dr Neil Sanghavi from Lenox Hill Hospital within New York, these findings ought to be considered seriously by the ones suffering from the condition.

Often the people who have sleep apnea are obese and many suffer from other risk factors associated with heart and according to Sanghavi, worse outcome is there when sleep apnea is added to the list of such risk factors. He says that the ones suspecting to have the condition need to get sleep test by doctor. Frequent symptoms include fatigue and daytime sleepiness. One other tipoff could be bed partner complaining of snores.

This study did not address whether the ones using treatments of sleep apnea would reduce the risk.

The study was funded by US National Institutes of Health. Gami served as consultant for St. Jude Medical, Boston Scientific and Medtronic. Other authors in the study also have worked got manufacturers of heart devices and the CPAP makers.