No One is Immune to Sleep Apnea.

The unforeseen death of Supreme Court Justice Scalia earlier in February was a shock to many and theories as to why he may have passed at age 79 started to develop soon after the news broke. One of the guesses discussed in an article at the Huffington Post (“Questions about the Death of Justice Scalia“) and an article at the Washington Post (“Why those Conspiracy Theories about Antonin Scalia’s Death Don’t Add Up“) suggests [highlight dark=”yes”]sleep apnea[/highlight] might have played a significant factor in the eventual health deterioration of Justice Scalia.

Speculation.

Even though there is still speculation on the true cause of death for Justice Scalia, the notion that sleep apnea may have played a role in the eventual cessation of his health is important to expound on. Scalia was an older man with a large neck circumference due to the extra weight on his frame, so the likelihood that the extra pressure around his neck and airway would cause trouble during sleep is not too hard to believe.

There are no solid affirmations that Scalia suffered from sleep apnea, but with his physical attributes and physician statements, it is highly likely he was a viable candidate for sleep apnea. According to the LA Times, Scalia’s physician stated Scalia had heart problems, high blood pressure and was recently deemed too weak to undergo shoulder surgery, so it may even be a combination of natural causes and sleep apnea that were what ultimately caused the untimely death of Justice Scalia. However, we’ll just focus on the dangers of sleep apnea here.

Could sleep apnea cause death?

Yes.

This may or may not be one of those cases, but sleep apnea does close off one’s airway to prevent oxygen from coming through. Oxygen needs to keep flowing in and out of airways to keep the body at stable levels and proper function. Repeated nights sleep apnea can cause oxygen desaturation in the body, which can lead to serious heart problems, high blood pressure and mind-numbing fatigue – both physical and mental – just to name a few potential consequences of this ailment that many people overlook.

What are the chances Scalia suffered from sleep apnea?

There is a high probability that Scalia suffered from sleep apnea, but the HuffPo article notes that there was nothing showing that he had treatment for sleep apnea at the time of his death. Now, if he knew that he had sleep apnea and didn’t treat it – that’s one thing, but if he wasn’t aware at all about sleep apnea and just ignored any snoring or daytime fatigue by never checking out the status of his health – that is a little more alarming.

With the presence of his heart problems and high blood pressure combined with his physical traits (being overweight with a large neck), he may have knowingly or unknowingly been gradually killing himself by not seeking treatment. According to the American Sleep Apnea Association, the deterioration of sleep quality that develops with sleep apnea can lead to changes in stress hormone levels, weight fluctuation, accelerated aging, and the high blood pressure caused by sub-par levels of oxygen may even lead to a change in blood vessel regulation.

Is it possible to prevent fatal outcomes of sleep apnea?

Yes.

The best way to prevent sleep apnea is to maintain a healthy weight and healthy lifestyle to prevent any airway blockage potential during sleep. If you or your loved one is snoring, go to your personal physician as soon as possible to get it checked out. Ensure that a sleep study is performed to accurately evaluate if sleep apnea is afflicting you or your loved one.

[highlight dark=”yes”]Although the cause of death for Scalia has yet to be determined, whether or not sleep apnea played a part in health should compel everyone to look at sleep apnea through a more serious lens. Health needs to be a priority in life – even if you’re in as powerful a position as Scalia was.[/highlight]

 

Don’t hesitate to contact Breathe Medical at [highlight dark=”no”](866) 535-2727[/highlight] or [highlight dark=”no”]patientcare@breathemed.com[/highlight] if you think sleep apnea might be affecting you or if you have any questions about PAP therapy supplies. We are here to help you.