Obstructive sleep apnea
Sleep apnea is a breathing disorder characterized by brief interruptions of breathing during sleep. It owes its name to a Greek word, apnea, meaning "want of breath." There are two types of sleep apnea: central and obstructive. Central sleep apnea occurs when the brain fails to send the appropriate signals to the breathing muscles to initiate respirations. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when air cannot flow into or out of the person's nose or mouth although efforts to breathe continue. Obstructive sleep apnea is much more common than central sleep apnea. In obstructive sleep apnea, the throat collapses during sleep causing the individual to snort and gasp for breath. Hundreds of these episodes can occur every night causing daytime sleepiness and, it is thought, increasing the risk of hypertension (high blood pressure) and heart problems.

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obstructive sleep apnea n sleep apnea that is caused by recurring interruption of breathing during sleep because of obstruction of the upper airway by weak or malformed pharyngeal tissues, that occurs esp. in obese middle-aged and elderly men, and that results in hypoxemia and in chronic lethargy during the day called also obstructive sleep apnea syndrome

Medical dictionary. 2011.

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