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Steven Y Park, MD  
Male, 54
New York, NY

Specialties: Sleep-breathing disorders

Interests: Running, Baking, origami
Private Practice
New York, NY
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What You Can Learn From Tiger Woods’ Snoring

Dec 04, 2009 - 2 comments

tiger woods




Sleep Apnea


car accident

Tiger Woods was found to be snoring while lying unconscious after his recent car accident. Many people snore, but snoring alone gives you anywhere from 30 to 80% chance of having undiagnosed obstructive sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is known to significantly increase your chances of developing hypertension, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.

I don’t want to speculate on the events of Tiger’s accident or even any possible medical conditions. I do want to point out, however, how common and prevalent this condition is, and that you can be a fit, elite athlete and still have this condition. Many of these top athletes compensate for their poor quality sleep using intense physical activity, and become very good at it. I alluded to a similar situation regarding Michael Phelps in a past post.

Take a look at Tiger’s profile photos (see links below). Notice how recessed his lower jaw sits, compared to his wife’s jaw. If you see his face from the front, you’ll see that it’s relatively narrow. If you want to guess what Tiger may may look like in another 30 to 40 years, take a look at his father’s picture. Notice the classic sleep apnea features (small, recessed jaw and big neck). Before dying of prostate cancer in 2006, he underwent multiple bypass procedures for heart disease.

This just goes to show how common sleep-breathing problems are in our modern society, almost to the point of being "normal" to have it to some degree. I talk about important reasons why this is the case in my book, Sleep, Interrupted: A physician reveals the #1 reason why so many of us are sick and tired.

For the rest of today, make it a point to analyze people’s jaws. You’ll be amazed how many people have small and recessed jaws, especially in younger people. Based on what I’ve presented and his photos, do you agree with me that Tiger may be at risk for sleep apnea? Please enter your responses in the comments box below.




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Avatar universal
by tereshunia, Dec 06, 2009
Dr Park,  
my husband has the kind of jaw and neck you describe and yes, he has sleep apnea.
He had a mild heart attack nine years ago, at 50. (wake up call)  At that time, I had to constantly watch him when we drove somewhere because he looked like he could fall asleep at any moment. In fact, I more than once caught him with his eyelids dropping down!  But he would never admit to it, it was very scary.
After his heart attack he lost a lot of weight (from 200 to 145) and the terrible snoring subsided.  Since then, he regained about 20lbs. and the snoring has resumed, albeit to a lesser degree than earlier on.

I never thought of the facial structures as an indicator, but it makes sense, and I'll be taking notice. Tiger looks like he may have that going on.


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by ODATINALANON, Dec 08, 2009
It is my understanding [based on wife's reportage], that he was drinking alcohol, had sleep RX Ambien and pain RX Vicodin on board as well. On admission to the hospital, he was observed by ER staff to have difficult respirations, was subsequently intubated.
I do not know Mr. Wood's drug/alcohol sedative effect threshold, but I would conjecture that he exceeded it, the combination of substances creating a deep sleep with the classical sleep apnea-like snoring observed by the neighbors, jaw and neck anatomy notwithstanding.
The public will probably never know the results of his tox panel, if they drew one, which is too bad. Such a substance related incident happening to a revered, iconic individual serves as a teaching example for all, instead of the media gossip we are observing.

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