Sleep apnea, which caused Bappi Lahiri’s death, is common but serious disorder: Experts

07:35 PM Feb 16, 2022 | PTI |

Mumbai: Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a common but serious sleep-related breathing disorder, can affect people of all ages, including infants and young children, but it is seen mostly in the age group of 50 years and above, and those suffering from obesity, experts said on Wednesday.


OSA has become a topic of much discussion after it was cited by doctors as the main cause of the death of veteran singer-composer Bappi Lahiri (69), who was facing multiple health issues, at a hospital in Mumbai on Tuesday night.

“OSA is a serious sleep disorder that happens when a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep. OSA has been the most untouched topic of discussion, especially in countries like India,” said Dr Sanket Jain, consultant pulmonologist with Masina Hospital, Mumbai.

Jain said its most common symptoms are snoring, morning headaches, daytime sleepiness or fatigue, dry mouth upon awakening, sudden awakening with the sensation of choking, mood disturbances.

If not treated, sleep apnea can lead to a number of health problems like hypertension, diabetes, stroke, cardiomyopathy, and heart failure, he warned.


“Obstructive sleep apnea is a disorder caused by the repetitive collapse of the upper airway during sleep. It is the most common sleep-related breathing disorder. OSA occurs when the muscles supporting the soft tissues in the throat, such as tongue and soft palate, relax,” said Dr Santosh Bangar, senior consultant psychiatrist, Global Hospital, Parel, central Mumbai.

There are three forms of OSA: mild, moderate, and severe, Bangar added.

He said when the obstruction is severe, the oxygen supply to various body organs is affected, leading to apnea (stoppage of breathing).

“Because of lack of oxygen, people suffer from a variety of neuropsychiatric symptoms such as tiredness, daytime sleepiness, irritability, and lack of concentration,” Bangar said.

The consultant psychiatrist added that mental and physical health complications like hypertension (high blood pressure), altered blood sugar (or diabetes), irregular heart rhythm, heart attack, sudden cardiac death, stroke (paralysis), dementia, and depression are associated with OSA.

Dr Pujan Parikh, consultant, pulmonary medicine, Sir HN Reliance Foundation Hospital, said obesity is the most common cause for sleep apnea hence weight of a person should be under control and in the normal range to reduce the risk of this disorder.

Persons suffering from uncontrolled hypertension, diabetes, recurrent cardiac failure of unknown cause, and stroke should be evaluated for sleep apnea and treated on time, he said.

What should a person do if he/she is suffering from sleep apnea? Parikh said a diagnostic sleep study is important to prove the diagnosis of sleep apnea and its severity.

Treatment options are decided on an individual basis depending on severity and symptoms and may include weight reduction, positive airway pressure therapy, dental appliances. Surgery is rarely required, he noted.

Parikh advised sleep apnea patients to exercise regularly, shun alcohol, and avoid sleeping pills.


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