Think it's not cool to wear a breathing mask for chronic snoring? Well, Boston Celtics star
Shaquille O'Neal recently got one, and he says -- in the video above produced by Harvard Medical School's Division of Sleep Medicine -- that he intends to wear it every night.
In the video, Shaq says his girlfriend, reality star Nikki "Hoopz" Alexander, first told him he had sleep apnea and convinced him to get evaluated. "It happens when he's on his back," Alexander says in the video. "He gets into this deep snore and then goes like this..." she says, imitating his snore. "It's like he stops; his chest will stop moving and everything. It's like he stops breathing."
Sleep apnea is a common problem defined by pauses in breathing while someone sleeps. The most common kind is obstructive sleep apnea, where the airway collapses or gets blocked throughout the night.
If left untreated, it can increase the risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, and diabetes. It can also make a person chronically tired from, well, lack of deep sleep.
Sleep apnea is often -- but not always -- accompanied by snoring and is far more common in those who are overweight and/or have thick neck circumferences. Shaq, at 7'1" tall, purportedly weighs 325 pounds, making him one of the heaviest players in the NBA. He also has a pretty wide neck, judging from photos of him.
Diagnosis usually involves sleeping overnight in a sleep lab with electrodes and monitoring devices to assess brainwave patterns, airflow, oxygen levels, and other vital signs. The video shows Shaq hooked up for the night at Harvard's sleep lab, and coming away with a diagnosis of "moderate" obstructive sleep apnea.
He's a good sport about the nasal mask when he's told he needs to use it every night to keep his airway open.
"This is nice, I like it," he says, waving his arms back and forth with the mask on. "Can I wear it to the club?"
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