ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Sleep Apnea: The Sleeping Disorder that Killed Actress Carrie Fisher

Updated on January 31, 2019
Sarah Vallory Draper profile image

Sarah V. Draper is a professional copywriter and freelance investigative journalist whose passion is communicating with the world.

Source

What Is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea causes victims to stop breathing while they are sleeping and affects an estimated 18 million people in the United States.

Sleep apnea is connected to numerous other health problems including headaches, fatigue, and insomnia, which is a sleeping disorder in and of itself.

Researchers have recently linked depression to sleep apnea as well, which leads to nearly 15 million adults experiencing a major depressive episode at least once in 12 months.

According to these statistics, a significant number of people in the United States may be affected by both conditions.

Source

How Sleep Apnea Is Life-Threatening

One of the most notable deaths attributed in part to sleep apnea is the passing of Carrie Fisher, who died of a heart attack in December 2016 at the age of 60.

While it is true that Fisher suffered from substance addiction, with the coroner stating that the actress had cocaine, morphine, codeine, and oxycodone in her system when she passed, the coroner also attributed sleep apnea as being most responsible for her massive heart attack.

In addition to that, the Rolling Stone reported:

“The Los Angeles County coroner’s office added Friday that atherosclerotic heart disease – fatty tissue in the walls of Fisher’s arteries – also contributed to her death, but the exact cause of her heart attack aboard a Los Angeles-bound airplane remains unclear.”

But the Star Wars actress is not the only famous person to have passed away as a result of sleep apnea. There are plenty of other well-known cases where sleep apnea can be directly correlated to the person’s death.

According to sleepapnea.org, the following celebrities died from sleep apnea:

  • James Gandolfini (The Sopranos)
  • Comedic actor John Candy
  • Justin Tennison (The Deadliest Catch)
  • Entertainer Harris Glenn Milstead (also known as Divine)
  • Grateful Dead frontman Jerry Garcia
  • Singer-musician Israel Kamakawiwo’ole
  • President William Howard Taft
  • NFL player Reggie White

Sleepapnea.org also pointed out that Supreme Court justice Anton Scalia fell victim to sleep apnea “as the result of failing to turn on his CPAP machine to treat his sleep apnea.”

Sleep apnea is a disorder where a sleeping person's throat narrows or closes entirely, interrupting their breathing up to hundreds of times in a single night.

This constant narrowing and closing of the throat cause the sufferer's blood oxygen levels to fall to such a level that they are suddenly woken up from their sleep.

However, though this can happen to someone hundreds of times a night, they are unaware of it. The only sign is the victim wakes up the next day feeling fatigued.

Over time, they may resort to drugs as a way to either sleep better or keep themselves alert during their awake hours.

Since the signs of sleep apnea often go unnoticed by the victim, it can go untreated.

According to WebMD, these are the following health risks caused by sleep apnea:

  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Heart failure, irregular heartbeats, and heart attacks
  • Diabetes
  • Depression
  • Worsening of ADHD
  • Headaches

The first five health risks are what make sleep apnea life-threatening, with depression be so because it can lead to drug abuse or suicide.

Source

How to Diagnose and Treat Sleep Apnea

If you notice a prolonged period of waking up unrested or low on energy, ask your bed partner to inform you if they have ever noticed you snoring heavily, gasping for air, choking, or have moments where you either have labored breathing or your breathing stops.

If you are single or do not sleep with your partner, there are numerous sleep monitoring applications on both Android and iOS that record your sleeping habits.

For those who believe the problem is serious enough, you may need to visit a sleep center where sleep specialists can conduct what is called a sleep study.

If you suspect you are suffering from health problems related to sleep apnea, there are a few ways to treat it.

If you are not interested in using drugs as the first course of action, experimenting with different sleeping positions might be the simplest solution.

For example, those who sleep in a supine position are more prone to suffer from sleep apnea, since lying flat on your back results in the tongue, pharynx, and soft palate to block the airways.

If sleeping in other positions is uncomfortable, you may need to switch to a firm, medium-firm, or memory foam mattresses that work well with adjustable bed bases.

Another way of treating sleep apnea is by wearing a positive airway pressure (CPAP) mask. This mode of respiratory ventilation is a form of sleep apnea therapy but is also used with those “critically ill in hospital with respiratory failure.”

This speaks volumes of the dangers posed by sleep apnea.

However, many people do not want to wear such a device while they sleep, so doctors are forced to find alternative methods in treating those suffering from this sleeping disorder.

© 2019 Sarah Draper

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Sarah Vallory Draper profile imageAUTHOR

      Sarah Draper 

      14 months ago from Kansas City, Missouri

      You must be talking about trigger points. Have you ever considered getting trigger point therapy?

    • Joseph Leal profile image

      Joseph Leal 

      14 months ago from Alamo, Texas

      This is a great article. I have suffered from sleeping disorders. I have linked it primarily to depression as well. We all have trapped pockets of energy in our body in the form of blockages caused by trauma. When are energy can circulate or when it reaches a block, we generate excessive nerve energy. When we think to much about a situation or issues, we began to generate this nerve energy making it difficult to sleep. With to much energy we begin to generate to much current in the form of uncontrollable thoughts. Our eyes began to shake and move constantly while trying to sleep. And we begin to keep turning in our bed in despair for some sleep. A great way to reverse this is to clear the trauma by doing deep psychological work or even an active meditation. We must all heal our repressed emotions from the psyche if we wish to be in best health and to get some good sleep.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)