When faced with illnesses that disrupt our lives, it is helpful to know that you aren’t alone. Especially when well-known public figures or celebrities also suffer from these self-same conditions and illnesses. It would be helpful to identify with an individual in the limelight going through what you are facing day in and day out. Think Muhammad Ali and Michael J. Fox and Parkinson’s Disease. Halle Berry and type 2 diabetes. Montel Williams and multiple sclerosis. But what if you have sleep apnea? Are there any celebrities with sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea, specifically obstructive sleep apnea, is defined as stoppage in breathing throughout the night. Whether from a partial or complete obstruction, the airway is blocked. The incidence can be as little as five to over 30 times an hour. And breathing pauses can last a few seconds to as long as minutes.
Unfortunately, it is estimated that 80 percent of people with sleep apnea are not diagnosed, or if diagnosed, avoid treatment. When not properly treated, sleep apnea places the person at a high risk for life-threatening illnesses such as high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.
After a sleep study has confirmed the diagnosis, usually continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is prescribed. Unfortunately, while CPAP does help decrease symptoms of sleep apnea, such as daytime sleepiness, poor concentration, fatigue and snoring, compliance of the treatment is poor. The CPAP is a bulky mask that the sleep apnea sufferer wears while he or she sleeps to open up the airway. Do celebrities really wear their masks if they have sleep apnea? Have they sought out alternative treatments? Only these individuals and their physicians know for sure. Not knowing whether or not a celebrity is compliant or not should not deter you from following your doctor’s recommendations.
Celebrities with Sleep Apnea
From sports to Hollywood to politics, the following celebrities have publicly announced that they have been diagnosed with sleep apnea.
Comedienne and TV sitcom star Roseanne Barr shared that her snoring kept her husband from sleeping soundly. Her sleep study did confirm she had sleep apnea.
Lead singer for the iconic Grateful Dead Jerry Garcia had sleep apnea. Of course, this rock legend passed away in 1995 from a heart attack that his physicians believed was due in part to his sleep apnea.
Well-known former judge on “American Idol” Randy Jackson was diagnosed with both type 2 diabetes and sleep apnea. Both conditions were significantly improved after his gastric bypass surgery.
World-renowned jazz musician and composer with 27 Grammy Awards to his name Quincy Jones is yet another star who has sleep apnea.
Larry the Cable Guy (real name
Daniel Lawrence Whitney)
Although his real name is Daniel Lawrence Whitney, Larry the Cable Guy has made himself quite the name as the affable redneck that everyone loves. While promoting his movie “Tooth Fairy 2,” this comedic star admitted that he has sleep apnea.
Back in 2007, actress, comic and talk show host Rosie O’Donnell shared live on “The View” that she had sleep apnea. According to her sleep study, she woke up over 200 times during the night with pauses of as high as 40 seconds.
After prompting by his girlfriend, former NBA center for 19 seasons Shaquille O’Neal was tested for sleep apnea at Harvard University’s Sleep Lab. The results of his study showed that he had moderate obstructive sleep apnea. This basketball star used his celebrity status to help raise awareness of the disease my working with Harvard Medical School’s Division of Sleep Medicine to create an educational video.
Governor of Texas since 2000, Rick Perry was diagnosed with sleep apnea during his presidential run. His physicians believed that his sleep apnea went undetected for years.
Remember the primetime game show, “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?,” hosted by Regis Philbin? His wife, Joy, would probably have coughed up a cool million to not listen to her husband snore every night. After much encouragement, the Emmy-award winning talk show host got tested and was diagnosed with sleep apnea.
Hall of Fame defensive end Reggie White passed in 2004. He was only 43 years of age. Although the cause of his death was a heart attack, it is theorized as being attributed to his sleep apnea diagnosis. In fact, his wife helped to launch the Reggie White Sleep Disorders Research & Education Foundation in his memory and to raise awareness of this condition.