OSA in Athletes – The Good and the Ugly

September 28, 2018

OSA in Athletes – The Good and the Ugly

Sleep Apnea & NFL Player Reggie White:

Almost 15 years ago, in 2004, the unforeseen death of a WWE wrestler, turned professional NFL legend, Reggie White completely devastated the sports world. He was just 43 years old. His No. 92 jersey has been retired by the Volunteers, Eagles and Packers. His untimely death caused everyone to take a closer look at the scary health risks of untreated Obstructive Sleep Apnea and how it can directly cause complications and indirectly cause death.                                                                                                                                                                                                            White lived with an inflammatory disease that affects his organs known as sarcoidosis and also suffered from Sleep Apnea. Unfortunately, he was unsuccessful in treating his OSA with CPAP therapy. According to the Medical Examiner’s Office, White suffered a fatal cardiac arrhythmia leading to sudden death in his sleep.

Sleep Apnea & MLB Player Josh James:

Josh James is a Major League Baseball Pitcher and has experienced his ups and downs in his baseball career. Often on the road for away games, he garnered a reputation for his snoring amongst his teammates. James was going through a low period. He started to gain weight, was plagued with chronic fatigue and delivered lukewarm performance game after game.

James was diagnosed with Obstructive Sleep Apnea. He decided to tackle his OSA with CPAP therapy and that meant taking a CPAP machine with him on the road to every away game. As his Sleep Apnea was being managed and his performance started to flourish.   

On the field, James delivered fastballs over 100 mph and strong innings with numerous strikeouts against a tough offence against the Angels, something he’s never done before!

Take-Home Message

Both White and James’ stories with two completely different outcomes go to show just how important sleep is and how it affects all aspects of our lives.  An OSA diagnosis can change your life - for better or for worse. Education on OSA and related breathing disorders can save lives. CPAP Therapy is only one of many treatment options. There’s positional sleeping devices, surgery or oral appliances which all have excellent success rates in treating OSA.

A healthy life includes a healthy sleep. Treatment is certainly not one fits all, or maybe easy to get use to, but it’s certainly worthwhile in the long run. 

Other Athletes Excelling On CPAP Therapy 

NFL Player Kyle Van Noy

World Champion Swimmer David Plummer

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