Carrie Fisher’s Death Sheds Light on Dangers of Sleep Apnea

Well-known actress Carrie Fisher recently passed away at 60 years old following a heart attack. Although the cause of her death was reported as “undetermined,” it was just released that an extremely common health condition was a contributing factor—sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when soft tissues in the back of the throat relax to the point that the breathing passage is narrowed, or sometimes completely closed. This can lead to snoring, difficulty breathing, and numerous breathing pauses throughout the night.

According to the National Institutes of Health, this disruption in sleep is the leading cause of daytime fatigue. Even more concerning, the diminished flow of oxygen to the brain caused by sleep apnea can lead to a number of serious health problems, such as high blood pressure, memory loss, heart disease, and stroke. Whether Fisher was aware of her sleep apnea is unknown, but it is very common for people to live with the condition and not realize it, especially women of a more advanced age.

Women in general tend to be diagnosed less often than men and disregard their symptoms. Unfortunately, sleep apnea can be a life-threatening disease when it goes untreated. This is why seeking the help of a specialist and undergoing a sleep study is vital to receiving a diagnosis. If you learn you do suffer from sleep apnea, there are different treatment options available to help you improve nighttime breathing, reducing your risk of more serious health problems.
Our experienced dentist, Dr. Robin Rutherford, works with a team of sleep disorder specialists at Sleep Permian to create personalized treatment plans for patients suffering from sleep apnea. If you or someone you know are concerned about sleep apnea, please contact us to schedule an appointment with Dr. Rutherford. Should you be diagnosed, he can help get you started on a treatment plan to better protect your overall health.