Posted by: mabsie | 2012/03/19

Apnoea periods

My partner is an extremly fit 57 yr old man who cycles 2 - 4 hours a day - easily does 60 kls on a Sunday for fun. His pulse is in the forties. He has been cycling for many years. My query is that once he falls asleep he sometimes takes ages to take a breath - I end up holding mine in fear! He has on occasion sat bolt upright after an apnoea period saying " he can''t get air."  What can cause this in this fit and healthy man?

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Our expert says:
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This sounds like one of the so-called sleep-related breathing disorders, of which sleep apnoea is the best known.

Although the classic picture is of a middle aged, obese male, we see lots of young skinny females with these disorders.

You are right to be concerned - they can potentially cause significant health problems. He needs to be seen by a sleep doctor, who will probably want to have him tested in a sleep laboratory. After that, the treatment is generally very effective.

It has nothing to do with him being or not being healthy at this stage. The problem is that the upper airway, which really has no bone or cartilage to support it, will collapse when he breathes in, causing the problem.

Do not ignore this - get him treated as soon as reasonably possible.

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