Researchers in Norway evaluated the association between obstructive sleep apnea and other health conditions such as hypertension, COPD, diabetes and obesity, reports Medical News Bulletin.

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a sleep disorder characterized by brief interruptions or pauses in breathing during sleep. One common cause of the obstruction is the relaxation of the muscles during sleep which allows the soft tissue in the airway to collapse. While many people may experience brief episodes of OSA at some point in their lives, only about 15% of sufferers are afflicted with severe OSA.

Since individuals with obstructive sleep apnea are rarely aware of these interruptions, they may suffer from OSA for years without a diagnosis. Daytime drowsiness and fatigue are often attributed to other factors. As a result, the overall effect of obstructive sleep apnea on the body over time is not well understood.