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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Preventing sleep disorders

Dear Editor:

Hall of Fame defensive end Reggie White died December 26 of a sleep-apnea- related cause. 49er Center Jeremy Newberry had surgery March 22 to remove his tonsils and soft tissue in his throat to relieve his sleep apnea. Why? Newberry says, "People are dying from this."

Sleep apnea is a disorder characterized by cessations in breathing during sleep. Symptoms include loud snoring and excessive daytime sleepiness. According to a study reported in the New England Journal of Medicine, when football players had sleep studies done, the percentage of sleep apnea was 14% of all players. Offensive and defensive linemen had an even higher prevalence of apnea with 34%. This is over eight times higher than the average 4% found in the general public. The effect sleep apnea has on football players is but one way of dramatizing the threat of this condition.

The most compelling cause of this troublesome sleep disorder is being overweight. The majority of sleep apnea sufferers are heavy set to obese with thick, short necks - the profile of many football players.

Although there are advanced treatments for people who have sleep apnea and specific procedures to diagnose it, the best way to prevent sleep disorders is good diet and maintaining a healthy weight. Exercise alone does not protect you from disease. If you or someone you know has significant symptoms of this disorder and needs help, contact us at the Sleep Disorders Center at Doctors Medical Center in Pinole. We will have a Sleep Awareness Fair on Saturday, June 11th with free sleep screenings, tours and lectures.


Fred Nachtwey, MD

Medical Director

Sleep Disorders Clinic

Doctors Medical Center

2151 Appian Way


Run dates: 2005-06-05 - 2005-06-11

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