Shaquille O'Neal diagnosed with Sleep Apnea

Watch Video (4 minutes)


How do you make the diagnosis of Sleep Apnea?

Clinical symptoms and polysomnogram ("sleep study"). 

What are the cardinal clinical symptoms of sleep apnea?


What is the most common form?

Obstructive sleep apnea.

What are some of the physiologic effects?

1. Chronic hypoxic pulmonary vasoconstriction leading to:

     => Pulmonary hypertension

     => right ventricular hypertrophy, seen as a right-axis deviation on EKG

     => cor pulmonale

2. Hypoxemia (low arterial PO2), which causes

     => renal release of erythropoietin

     => Polycythemia

3. Repeated arousals interferes with REM sleep

     => Excessive daytime sleepiness (hypersomnolence)

     => Decreased attentiveness and concentration

     => Increased risk of work-related and motor vehicle accidents

What are some treatments for obstructive sleep apnea?

1. Lifestyle modifications

  • Weight loss
  • Sleeping on the side
  • Avoiding alcohol, sleeping medications, and muscle relaxants
  • Smoking cessation.

2. Oral appliances = a custom-fit mouthpiece to maintain airway patency

3. Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP)

  • Most common treatment for moderate to severe sleep apnea.

4. Surgical procedures

What is a major side effect of sleep apnea in basketball players such as Shaq?

Clearly it must be the inability to make free throws!

Video Source: Harvard Medical School

Copyright (c) 2011 John Barone MD. All rights reserved.


#1 Suzanne Havican 2016-08-28 18:32
I did a medical school intercession shadowing experience with Dr. Jamie Boero, Ph.D, M.D. at Marshfield Clinic in Wisconsin. Please believe me when I tell you I was moved by how his patients would be afraid of the test, the mask and how it would affect their relationships. And just like Shaq shares in the valuable video; the patients returned with real statements such as: "I don't wake up with headaches every morning!", "I have energy to do things I thought I could never handle". And my favorite, I heard over and over..."Dr. Boero, You gave me my life BACK!" Please don't be afraid to encourage your patients, loved ones or yourself to get may not only give you quality of life, but extend your life as well!
Category: Pathology of the Stars

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