LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Millions of Americans suffer from sleep apnea. It affects up to 80% of people with cardiovascular disease, yet it is underrecognized and undertreated.

Sleep apnea is more than just snoring, it’s a condition that interrupts breathing during sleep. It can lead to more serious even life-threatening cardiovascular conditions.

For years, friends and family told Gilles Frydman he snored like a truck.

He struggled with very high blood pressure for more than a decade, until he was diagnosed with sleep apnea. He then got his blood pressure under control.

Now he sleeps with a CPAP mask, and it has made a dramatic improvement in his health and quality of life.

“You don’t have to go to a sleep center to get diagnosed. You can actually get a home sleep study done,” said Dr. Yerem Yeghiazarians from the University of California, San Francisco. “In addition to CPAP, which is still very helpful for some of the patients, we have alternative therapy. So patients don’t want to wear a CPAP machine or they’re intolerant of it, we can actually treat them appropriately with oral appliances.”

Within a month of using the CPAP machine, Frydman’s high blood pressure was under control, and he was getting a good night’s rest.

The American Heart Association is raising awareness that sleep apnea should be taken seriously.

Besides high blood pressure, it can lead to other heart rhythm disorders, stroke, coronary artery disease, heart attack, diabetes and sudden cardiac death.

What puts you at risk for sleep apnea? Things like:

  • Obesity
  • Large neck circumference
  • Smoking
  • Family history
  • Nighttime nasal congestion