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Men’s health: Losing weight can improve sleep and reduce the risk for sleep apnea

It’s no secret that by most measures, many Americans are overweight.

Today, an estimated 36 percent of Americans are considered obese according to the CDC, and the condition can bring a number of health issues along with it. But did you know that by losing weight you can dramatically improve your quality of sleep, reducing the risk for sleep apnea?

Eliminating sleep apnea can ultimately decrease your chances of more severe health problems including stroke, cardiovascular failure, diabetes and high blood pressure.

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patient-care

U of M doc provides salvation to chronic sleep apnea sufferers for which traditional treatment just isn’t working

For an estimated 9 to 24 percent of the U.S. population, sleep apnea saps them of strength and impacts their functioning on a daily basis. The chronic condition is a serious one: if left unmanaged, sleep apnea can lead to an increased risk of heart disease, stroke and death.

Here’s how sleep apnea occurs:

Normally, when people sleep, the muscles in their throat relax and breathing can become restricted. For sleep apnea sufferers, the restriction is more prevalent leading to a complete collapse of the airway. As oxygen levels decrease or breathing becomes obstructed, the body will wake itself up, allowing respiration to return to normal.

Sleep apnea suffers can wake up multiple times throughout the night, and sleep becomes completely disrupted, creating a cycle that eventually leads to sheer exhaustion.

Patients with sleep apnea will generally try a new body position, pillow, mattress or a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine to find some relief. After these traditional methods have been exhausted, some patients may resort to surgery.

And that’s where Jennifer Hsia, M.D., University of Minnesota Medical School assistant professor of Otolaryngology and University of Minnesota Physicians sleep surgeon comes in.

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