What Can Happen when Sleep Apnea is Untreated

This is the second of a three blog post series to promote the health of people who suffer from sleep apnea.  

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder affecting a person’s breathing. The gold-standard in treatment is the use of a CPAP or BPAP machine at night. The previous post in this series covered the reasons why sleep apnea patients do not comply with their doctor’s prescribed treatment. This post will discuss the negative health and daily living effects of not adhering to treatment.

Sleep apnea, when untreated, has been found to be related to many negative outcomes. It can increase the risk of many health conditions. These include high blood pressure, stroke, heart failure, irregular heartbeats, diabetes, depression and headaches. (1)  Fatigue is likely and can lead to low energy, low performance at work and driving accidents. (2)

tired driverCar accidents caused by fatigue has become a big concern. It is estimated that 56,000 car accidents a year are caused by lack of sleep. (2) If sleep apnea patients are not using their CPAP/BPAP, it can cause them to fall asleep at the wheel and cause an accident.

It is important for health professionals to help sleep apnea patients find a mask that is comfortable and machine that they can afford. Patients will be more likely to adhere to their treatment, reducing the risk of car accidents and health problems.


Works Cited

  1. WebMD. Sleep Apnea. [Online] 2014. http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/sleep-apnea/sleep-apnea.
  2. Sleep disorders as a cause of motor vehicle collisions. M, Tulio de Mello, et al. 3, 2013, Int J Prev Med, Vol. 4. PCM3634162.


Laurie M. DeChello, MPH, CPH

Altra Service Professionals (ASP) does not provide medical advice. If you have questions about your illness or treatment, please contact your doctor.


Laurie DeChello, MPH, CPH is the health educator and a co-owner of Altra Service Professionals, Inc. Laurie writes a health blog for the ASP website regarding issues related to respiratory illnesses and treatment. She is a certified technician repairing ventilators and sleep apnea equipment. She also assists in keeping the office running smoothly. Laurie previously taught courses in the health sciences with Kaplan University. She also taught public health courses at the University of Connecticut and performed epidemiologic research (the spread and control of diseases) also at the University of Connecticut for 11 years. She is widely published in the medical literature. Laurie lives in Florida with her amazing husband, two adorable boys and numerous animals on their small farm. She enjoys cooking and entertaining at her home. Laurie has her Master’s in Public Health and is also Certified in Public Health. If you have a public health question or would like more information about your illness, please contact her at LaurieD@altraservice.com. She is also available to develop and lead health seminars.