Ask The Sleep Doctor: Sleep Study for Sleep Apnea, Sleep and Parkinsons and Sleep and Heart Attacks

Sleep doctor ready to answer questions

Dear Dr. Rosenberg,

I am on three medications for hypertension and my blood pressure still runs high. My cardiologist suggested I get a sleep study. I live alone and don’t know if I snore or stop breathing but no one has ever mentioned it. Do you think a sleep study is really necessary?

Yes I do. What you have is known as resistant hypertension, which is the requirement of three or more medications to control hypertension. Studies have shown that 70% of individuals with this condition have sleep apnea. In fact, a study published this month in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, done in Hong Kong, revealed that over 90% had sleep apnea. It also revealed that just treating the blood pressure without treating the sleep apnea, failed to prevent cardiac complications.

Dear Dr. Rosenberg,

My dad was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease about a year ago. My mom says he is having a hard time staying asleep. Is this common in Parkinson’s?


Yes, up to 50% of people with the disease have trouble falling and especially staying asleep. This can be due to frequent urination, inability to move easily and find a comfortable position, painful muscle spasms and restless legs syndrome and sleep apnea, to name a few. I would urge your mother to discuss this with his neurologist. Most of these are treatable.

Dear Dr. Rosenberg,

My husband was recently hospitalized with a heart attack. While in the hospital his nurse noted that he stopped breathing in his sleep. His doctor wants him to have a sleep study but he is not convinced it is necessary. What do you think?


Based on recent findings, I would encourage him to get tested. One recent study followed people for six years who had had heart attacks. Those with sleep apnea who refused treatment were 80% more likely to go on to develop a second heart attack than those who chose treatment.

Dear Dr. Rosenberg,

My daughter has been diagnosed with sleep apnea and she has diabetes. As of now, she is not sure that she wants to treat her sleep apnea. She dreads wearing a CPAP mask. I am worried that by ignoring it, matters will get worse. Am I correct?


Yes you are. We know that treating sleep apnea decrees the blood sugar significantly making control of diabetes much easier. We also know, based on a study published in the October issue of BMJ (British Medical Journal), that the incidence of diabetic kidney disease is 75% higher in diabetics with untreated sleep apnea.

Robert S. Rosenberg, DO, FCCP, is the medical director of the Sleep Disorders Center of Prescott Valley, Arizona and sleep medicine consultant for Mountain Heart Health Services in Flagstaff, Arizona. Dr. Rosenberg is Board Certified in Sleep Medicine, Pulmonary Medicine, and Internal Medicine. His book Sleep Soundly Every Night, Feel Fantastic Every Day  is a best seller. Dr Rosenberg’s latest book is The Doctor’s Guide to Sleep Solutions for Stress & Anxiety. Visit Dr Rosenberg’s website which offers a wealth of information on sleep topics.

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1 thought on “Ask The Sleep Doctor: Sleep Study for Sleep Apnea, Sleep and Parkinsons and Sleep and Heart Attacks

  1. Tricia Reply

    Dear Dr. Rosenberg,
    I noticed your expertise is sleep apnea but I’m wondering if you could give advice about long sleeping. I’ve suffered from long sleeping since teen years. I also have epilepsy but my doctors don’t think the two correlate. I’ve been to a sleep study and have had tons of bloodwork. I did a week in the hospital (for a seizure study but they also recorded my sleeping) and I don’t have any detected sleep disorders such as sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome. I require a minimum of 10 hours. If I try to wake myself before that, I need multiple alarms and then I’m exhausted all day. Some people have recommended to me to just force myself up and deal with the tiredness however my seizures (which only happen during the night) are brought on by tiredness. They say to exercise which I’m fine with, but I can’t bring myself to exercise if I’m exhausted. Being very tired also makes me feel physically ill, groggy, irritable or have a headache. I’m 41 and I have 13 year old twin daughters. I’ve dealt with the guilt and shame of feeling like a bad parent and lazy wife/friend/relative because of the sleep I require. It’s embarrassing to sleep through alarms and arrive places late and have to explain I couldn’t get out of bed. Peoples favorite line to me is “it must be nice to sleep all morning.” It’s not nice to sleep all morning! I want to be up and refreshed and doing things with my kids and working a daytime job (I currently only work evenings). I don’t want to sleep my life away. I finally got to the point that I just lost hope for a cure. However I just recently noticed one of my twin daughters seems to be dealing with the same thing. I don’t know if it’s just normal teen behavior or if I need to be concerned. Is there any cutting edge research out there or experimental drug? I’d be willing to participate in drug trials. Anything to find a way to fix this so my daughter won’t have to go through her adult life with this shame, guilt or embarrassment. Thank you for your time and any help or information you can give me.

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