New York Times
by Anahad O’Connor
Every night, millions of Americans go to bed and drift into an evening of sleep that is anything but peaceful. They snore and gasp for air throughout the night, causing chronic sleepiness and increasing their risk of heart disease, hypertension and Type 2 diabetes. This condition, known as sleep apnea, affects an estimated 22 million Americans. Yet most people who have it never get it diagnosed. They suffer night after night and jeopardize their health. Here’s what you need to know about sleep apnea, along with some of the best ways to detect and sometimes even cure it… “You’re not getting oxygen, you have this very high level of sympathetic activity, and to make matters worse you’re generating huge levels of pressure in the chest,” said Dr. Virend Somers, a cardiologist at the Mayo Clinic who specializes in sleep disorders. “You’re generating negative pressure inside the chest to pull in air, but the air isn’t coming in. You’re distorting the structures in the chest like the heart and the atrium and this is happening hundreds of times a night. When you repeat this insult every night over many years, you eventually get structural and functional changes in the body.”
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Context: Virend Sommers, M.D., is a Mayo Clinic cardiologist. Dr. Somers directs the Cardiovascular Facility and the Sleep Facility within Mayo Clinic's Center for Clinical and Translational Science. His team's research focuses on the role of the autonomic nervous system in cardiovascular regulation in humans, with an emphasis on normal and disordered sleep. The team is also involved in studies of vascular biology in humans, examining how changes in neural mechanisms may influence the local control of blood vessels. You can read more about Dr. Somer's medical research here.
Contact: Traci Klein