TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Sleep Apnea is a potentially life-threatening disease that strikes while you sleep. Doctors say it affects one out of every 200 Americans and the disorder happens when people stop or pause breathing in their sleep.
East Texan, Robert Scott, says his Sleep Apnea was so bad that he almost fell asleep while driving on the highway. "I could fall asleep at anytime," said Scott. "I could fall asleep at a meeting."
What Scott did not know is that his chronic sleepiness was the result of Sleep Apnea. Dr. Raymond Perkins is the medical director of ETMC Sleep Disorder Center and calls Sleep Apnea a fatal disease. "It shortens people's lives," said Perkins. "It leads to increased likelihood of stroke, having a heart attack [and] heart failure."
Scott says his wife of 20 years noticed something was not right with his sleeping. "Not only was I snoring bad, she said I was running all night," said Scott. "She said my feet were always moving and I was gasping for air. And, every night I would wake up with reflux several times."
The father of two teenage sons went in for a sleep study at the ETMC Sleep Disorder Center to find out what was wrong. The nurses attached sensors to Scott and monitored him while he slept in a bed at their clinic. "There's a monitoring of movement of muscles. There's monitoring of breathing - of heart rate," said Perkins. "This test is all encompassing and tells us about your sleep"
When Scott woke up, test results revealed a severe case of Sleep Apnea.
Dr. Perkins says there are several ways to treat the disease, including surgery, an oral appliance, or in Scott's case, a device called a C-PAP.
"Those are just forms of pressure that are applied through a mask or just air, room air that is applied into the back of the throat so the airway doesn't collapse because this is what happens during Sleep Apnea," explained Perkins.
"They call me Darth Vadar," laughed Scott.
He says the device has changed his life. "It's a 'plus' in more ways than one," said Scott. "You will feel better. You will be more rested...now, I'm trying to lose weight."
But, he says one thing at a time.
Dr. Perkins says the C-PAP device is the most effective form of therapy for Sleep Apnea. It is 95% effective.