There are several types of sleep apnea including obstructive, central and mixed subtypes. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) accounts for 90% of cases, and implies complete or partial collapse of the upper airway, while central sleep apnea is not associated with upper airway obstruction at all. Regardless of the type of sleep apnea, the patient experiences repeated bouts of apnea or cessation of breathing, associated with fragmented sleep, and repeated episodes of reduced oxygen level and elevated carbon dioxide. Over time, sleep apnea damages the cardiovascular system and, especially if severe, it may precipitate a stroke, heart attack, or sudden death in the setting of a compromised cardiovascular system.
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