Diabetic risk without the diabetes

You could have the worn-out, run-down, beaten-up heart of a diabetic... and not even have the disease itself. All you need is sleep apnea, the frightening condition where you stop breathing in the night.

When you don't breathe, cells throughout your body don't get the essential oxygen they need to function. And when they don't get that oxygen... well... just take a look at the apnea patients in the latest study of the hardening of arteries.

Their arteries were so stiff that researchers say they looked pretty much exactly like the hardening in arteries of diabetics who took part in the same study -- which is not a good sign right off the bat.

The hardening of arteries of both apnea patients and diabetics restrict blood flow, forcing the body to up the pressure to keep it pumping -- and that puts you at risk of heart attack, stroke, and more.

Now, if you're diabetic, you already know all about these and the other heart risks you're facing. Apnea patients usually don't -- because up to 90 percent of them don't even realize they have apnea in the first place.

After all, it takes place while they're asleep -- and while it might be hard to believe, most people sleep right through these breathless episodes.

That's why the best person to spot the condition isn't yourself. It's your spouse. Your spouse may notice heavy snoring, or heavy snoring followed by periods of total silence when you stop breathing.

Other signs to watch for include waking up tired, morning headaches, and daytime sleepiness -- but the only way to know for sure is to spend a night in a sleep clinic where you can be observed.

If you think there's any chance at all you may have this condition, it's essential that you get it checked out -- because hardening of arteries isn't the only risks associated with apnea.

This condition has also been linked to other serious heart problems as well as stroke, brain damage, and more. One study I told you about recently found that apnea patients are up to five times more likely to die of cancer than people who don't have the condition.

There are surgical treatments and dental devices that can ease apnea and some patients sleep with an oxygen mask. However, since apnea is often caused by obesity, losing weight is often the best cure.