Rick Perry's now-famous "Oops" moment during a 2011 debate was likely the result of a long-undiagnosed case of sleep apnea, according to a new book written by Texas Tribune correspondent Jay Root about his time covering the Texas governor's presidential campaign.
Root says that Perry suffered from insomnia for weeks leading up to the Republican debate in Rochester, Mich., according to Reuters.
"After conducting overnight tests on Perry, they produced a rather startling diagnosis: He had sleep apnea, and it had gone undetected for years, probably decades," Root wrote.
Sleep apnea occurs when throat muscles relax, thereby collapsing the airways and resulting in short periods of disruptions in the breath during sleep. These pauses in breathing can occur 30 times or more an hour, and often disturb deep sleep, according to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, leaving people with sleep apnea overly tired in the morning.
But sleep apnea in particular may have an effect on long-term brain power. A 2008 study found a link between sleep apnea and tissue loss in memory-storing areas of the brain, according to Life's Little Mysteries, and a 2011 study suggested, at least among women, that sleep apnea upped the risk of developing dementia later in life.
Reuters reports that Perry has since been given a machine to help his breathing during the night -- we can only assume a CPAP machine although the article doesn't say. And that's a good thing -- because not only is sleep apnea now to blame for campaign-derailing gaffes, it's linked with a host of serious health concerns that Perry and the other 18 million American adults with sleep apnea should watch out for.
Sleep Apnea Increases Risk Of Heart Attack
The sleep disorder has a number of poor effects on the heart. "It's as if somebody's choking you, so your heart rate goes up, your blood pressure goes up," Charles Czeisler, M.D., the Baldino Professor of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School told <em>Health</em> magazine. "Over time, even your daytime blood pressure is higher." Sleep apnea may be responsible for a third of all cases of <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/14/sleep-health_n_1310353.html">high blood pressure</a> in Americans, he told the magazine. A 2007 study showed just how serious these cardiovascular effects of sleep apnea are. The research found that people with sleep apnea were <a href="http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/05/070520183533.htm">30 percent more likely to have a heart attack</a> or die of any cause over a four to five year period.
Sleep Apnea May Increase Depression Risk
The under diagnosed sleep condition takes a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/30/sleep-apnea-depression-risk_n_1391707.html">serious toll on the mood</a>, according to March research from the CDC. In fact, men with sleep apnea were more than twice as likely and women more than five times as likely to feel hopeless, lose interest in their regular activites and display other signs of clinical depression, Health.com reported. Snoring did not seem to be associated with depression. Luckily, the very same <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/15/sleep-apnea-treatment-depression-cpap_n_1597703.html">treatment for sleep apnea may also ease depression</a>, according to Cleveland Clinic research.
Sleep Apnea May Be A Risk Factor For Diabetes
There is a growing body of research supporting a link between the presence of sleep apnea and <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/24/sleep-apnea-diabetes-type-2-_n_1539933.html">metabolic disorders like diabetes</a>, HuffPost reported in May. Both moderate and severe obstructive sleep apnea were found to be predictors of the disease. A previous study found that people with sleep apnea had more than <a href="http://news.yale.edu/2007/05/24/sleep-apnea-increases-risk-heart-attack-and-diabetes">double the risk of developing diabetes</a>.
Sleep Apnea May Increase Cancer Risk
Not only do people with sleep apnea have a <a href="http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/05/20/sleep-apnea-tied-to-increased-cancer-risk/">higher risk of developing cancer</a>, but they also have a higher risk of dying from the disease, the <em>New York Times</em> reported. Two studies in May examined this link. One found people with sleep apnea had a 65 percent higher change of developing any kind of cancer. The second found that disordered breathing contributed to a five-times higher rate of dying from the disease.
Sleep Apnea May Sap Your Libido
Excessive sleepiness is certainly enough to kill the mood, but research suggests that sleep apnea in particular has an effect on sexual function in both men and women. It may <a href="http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/10/10/really-the-claim-sleep-apnea-causes-sexual-problems/">drive down sex hormones</a> like testosterone in a way that can extinguish the flame for women and cause erectile dysfunction in men, according to the <em>New York Times</em>. And while the typical treatment -- a CPAP machine -- is not exactly an aphrodisiac, Dr. Michael J. Breus writes, it can help not only with sleep apnea, but <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-michael-j-breus/sleep-apnea_b_1661687.html">with the sexual side effects as well</a>.
Sleep Apnea May Increase Stroke Risk
Researchers have long studied the link between the sleep disorder and the risk of stroke, but a small recent study found that 51 of 56 stroke patients evaluated -- or <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-michael-j-breus/sleep-apnea_b_1342311.html">91 percent of patients</a> -- had sleep apnea, Dr. Michael J. Breus wrote for HuffPost. More research is still needed to determine just what role disrupted breathing plays in this elevated risk.
Sleep Apnea Increases Accident Risk
It's not rocket science -- excessive sleepiness during the day leads to sleepier drivers who are at a higher risk of crashing. But a 2008 study found that people with sleep apnea have double the risk of being in a car accident and are <a href="http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080218214401.htm">three to five times more likely to be in a serious crash</a>. The study was the first to examine the severity of car crashes among people with sleep apnea, and found that even mild disordered breathing was linked to increased risk.
Sleep Apnea Is Linked To Pregnancy Complications
Granted, Perry doesn't have to worry about this particular concern. While sleep apnea is often perceived as a problem predominately for men, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/16/sleep-apnea-in-women-may-_n_1779127.html">women are not immune</a>. And, in fact, sleep apnea presents unique complications for women. A recent study found that women with sleep apnea were more likely to develop high blood pressure during their pregnancies, to require a C-section birth and their babies were more <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/21/sleep-apnea-in-pregnancy-_n_1903534.html">likely to be admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit</a>.
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