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Sleep apnea increases the risk of high blood pressure, stroke, obesity, and diabetes, and is also associated with irregular heartbeats and heart failure.
It increases the chances of having a work-related or driving accident, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI). Excessive daytime sleepiness resulting from a poor night’s sleep is a common symptom.
The same goes for filing unsubstantiated appeals, which take several years because of the large backlog.
Sandy Britt is a Montgomery County veterans service officer.
If you have a general question or topic you'd like covered in a future column, email [email protected]
Questions about a specific claim can be addressed only by calling the MCVSO at 931-553-5173 for an office appointment with a service officer.
For example, a veteran service-connected with another obstructive respiratory condition such as chronic rhinitis or sinusitis, deviated septum or asthma, among others, may be able to get service-connection for sleep apnea on a secondary basis if they can provide medical evidence and a medical opinion from their doctor that the sleep apnea is "more likely than not" a residual, secondary disability of a service-connected disability.
Service connection will be granted on a direct basis only if the disorder was diagnosed on active duty.
When air does squeeze by, it can result in snoring.
This condition is common in those who are obese, but anyone can have obstructive sleep apnea, including children with enlarged tonsils. This occurs when the area of the brain that controls breathing doesn’t send the correct signals to the breathing muscles, and breath stops for brief periods.
Though there are some conditions that can be granted service connection if they are diagnosed to a compensable degree within one year of leaving active duty, sleep apnea is not one of them.
In some cases sleep apnea can be claimed as a secondary or residual disability to an already-held service connected disability.