-Tyrone Conner’s heart was in such bad shape that he could barely walk up a flight of steps.
“I felt like I was 80 years old,” said Conner, 50, of Norristown.
He also suffered from sleep apnea, snoring heavily and gasping for breath every night.
What he did not initially realize was that the two problems were linked.
Conner’s physicians, at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, made the connection, but many do not. Sleep apnea afflicts as many as 60 percent of patients with heart failure — the term for a weakened heart muscle that cannot keep up with the body’s demands. Yet only 2 percent of them nationwide are treated for the nocturnal breathing problem, said Sunil Sharma, associate director of the Jefferson Sleep Disorders Center.