About sleep apnea

Can you die from sleep apnea?

Yes, sleep apnea can kill you – through its interactions with other life-threatening conditions.

Those with untreated sleep apnea may be more likely to:

  • Have a heart attack1 or stroke2 (2–3 more times likely);
  • Have high blood pressure3 or type 2 diabetes;4
  • Be involved in a deadly vehicle accident.5

Due to the links between sleep apnea, serious medical conditions and dangerous situations, researchers have claimed that there may be a link between sleep apnea and an “increased likelihood of premature death.”6

Of course, we don’t say that to scare anyone. But we get asked that question often, and we want people to know how serious this condition is so they know how positively life-changing effective treatment can be.

Patrick’s story

Patrick Stafford sure knows the risks. Stafford is a 27-year-old husband, father and writer for tech media outlet Gizmodo. He also has severe sleep apnea and recently wrote an article about his journey to diagnosis and introduction to CPAP. The title “The deadly reality of living with sleep apnea” doesn’t mince words; Stafford states the very real risks that we mention above.

The good news: CPAP treatment is effective and better than ever

While the risks of untreated sleep apnea are serious, CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) treatment is clinically proven to reduce these risks.7,8 What’s more: CPAP masks and machines now have more features for added comfort and ease of use compared to some of the older models shown in Stafford’s article.

Stafford himself says he currently uses ResMed’s latest AirSense™ 10 Elite, which features built-in humidificationAutoRamp™ (to keep your air pressure comfortably lower until you fall asleep), and myAir™ (a free program that lets you track your nightly CPAP data on your smartphone or computer).

It’s all about what you gain

In Stafford’s story, his first motivation to start treatment is about lowering harmful risks – which CPAP can help with. But he also acknowledges everything he has gained since using CPAP – the endurance to perform at his job, the alertness to get there safely, and the energy to be with his wife and son when he gets home at night. As Stafford says, “I feel alive. More than I’ve ever felt.”

We hope you share Patrick’s story with others and encourage them to rediscover a great night’s sleep and reap the benefits that Patrick and his family have.



  1. Shahar E et al. Sleep-disordered breathing and cardiovascular disease: Cross-sectional results of the Sleep Heart Health Study. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 2001;163(1):19–25.
  2. Redline S et al. Obstructive sleep apnea-hypopnea and incident stroke: The sleep heart health study. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 2010;182:269–77.
  3. Marin JM et al. Association between treated and untreated obstructive sleep apnea and risk of hypertension. J Am Med Assoc 2012;307(20):2169–76.
  4. Einhorn D et al. Prevalence of sleep apnea in a population of adults with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Endocr Pract 2007;13(4):355–62.
  5. Horstmann S et al. Sleepiness-related accidents in sleep apnea patients. Sleep 2000;23(3):1–7.
  6. Young T et al. Sleep disordered breathing and mortality: Eighteen-year follow-up of the Wisconsin sleep cohort. Sleep 2008;31(8):1071–8.
  7. Buchner NJ et al. Continuous positive airway pressure treatment of mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea reduces cardiovascular risk. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 2007;176(12):1274–80.
  8. Babu AR et al. Type 2 diabetes, glycemic control, and continuous positive airway pressure in obstructive sleep apnea. Arch Intern Med 2005;165(4):447–52.


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