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Obstructive sleep apnea is a common illness.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a common illness often going undiagnosed in primary care practices. Because the disorder is associated with significant morbidity and mortality, it is important for the primary care health provider to be familiar with the clinical presentation and treatment of sleep apnea.
The term obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), refers to the single known medical disorder that only occurs during sleep. In the awake, upright position, there is no problem. During sleep, however, complete or partial obstruction of the upper posterior airway causes loud snoring, arterial desaturations and frequent arousals leading to un-restful sleep and excessive daytime sleepiness. Almost all patients with significant sleep apnea snore heavily.
In addition to excessive daytime sleepiness there is often associated hypertension, impotence, impaired daytime functioning and emotional problems. Angina pectoris, nocturnal cardiac arrhythmias, myocardial infarction, stroke are also more common cardiovascular problems in patients with OSA. Perhaps one of the most serious consequences of sleep apnea is the increased incidence of automobile accidents, presumably from falling asleep at the wheel.