Aaron Taylor, former offensive guard for the Green Bay Packers and current college football analyst, is helping the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) promote awareness about sleep apnea. Taylor is successfully treating his sleep apnea, and the result has been a significant improvement in his health and quality of life. His goal is to influence younger athletes to seek early testing and treatment, so that they can both perform better and live longer.

“Even at a young age, ignoring the symptoms of sleep apnea leads to dangerous consequences, as I’ve seen firsthand for fellow players and friends who have struggled with this condition,” said Taylor. “I want current and future athletes to understand the serious risks of this disease and know this isn’t something you have to live with. I’ve experienced how sleep apnea treatment can dramatically change your life.”

Taylor’s former teammate and friend, Reggie White, died in 2004 at the age of 43 from a cardiac condition. Sleep apnea was a contributing factor to the deterioration of White’s health and, ultimately, his death.

“It’s critical to diagnose and treat sleep apnea in young athletes as early as possible,” said M. Safwan Badr, MD, president of the AASM. “Sleep apnea is a significant, independent risk factor for high blood pressure and heart disease, and blood pressure elevation during young adulthood increases the risk of cardiovascular mortality later in life.”