Sleep apnea is a common disorder in which a person has one or more pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while sleeping. There are three types of sleep apnea: obstructive, central, and mixed. Of the three, obstructive sleep apnea, often called OSA for short, is the most common. As a result of the disruption in sleep, people with sleep apnea have poor quality of sleep and often feel tired during the day. In fact, sleep apnea is a leading cause of excessive daytime sleepiness, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Overweight and obese people are more likely to have obstructive sleep apnea. As a person gains weight, especially in the trunk and neck area, the risk of OSA increases due to compromised respiratory function.
Many experts believe that as little as a 10 percent decrease in body weight can lead to significant clinical improvement in the severity of sleep apnea. Weight loss surgery has been shown to be especially effective in improving or resolving sleep apnea in obese patients with the condition. A new 2 year analysis of the on-going APEX (Lap-Band AP Experience) study found that sleep apnea improved or resolved at 2 years in as much as 86 percent of patients who received Lap-Band surgery. The study also showed that even patients that did not have sleep apnea experienced improvements in sleep. Lead researcher, Dr. Mark Fusco, Bariatric Surgeon and Medical Director at LifeShape Advanced Bariatric Center of Florida said: “Interestingly, the study showed that even patients that were not identified as having sleep apnea preoperatively experienced a significant improvement in their sleep related quality of life.” At 2 years post-surgery, the study participants also experienced improvement in other obesity-related conditions, such as type 2 diabetes (96 percent) and hypertension (91 percent).