Sleep apnea is a condition where people stop breathing during sleep.
There are two main forms of sleep apnea:
- Obstructive sleep apnea – this is where the airway collapses during sleep and prevents air from getting to the lungs
- Central sleep apnea – this is where the brain does not send the right signal to the muscles that control breathing
Sometimes people have a combination of both types of sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is very common in people with heart failure, and if untreated, can lead to worsening of the symptoms of heart failure.
Common symptoms of sleep apnea are:
- loud snoring
- difficulty falling and staying asleep
- poor quality sleep – waking up and feeling like you haven’t had a good rest
- excessive daytime tiredness, feeling the need to nap in the afternoons
- headaches in the morning
Sleep apnea is diagnosed with a test called a sleep study. This involves sleep over either in a hospital or a clinic. You will be monitored closely during sleep to determine how deeply you are sleeping, whether you stop breathing and how often.
Depending on the type of sleep apnea and the severity, there are a number of different treatments available. Your health care provider will talk to you about which is right for you.