What Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea? Indian Singer Bappi Lahiri Dies Aged 69

Bappi Lahiri, the popular Bollywood singer and composer, known as India's "disco king," has died at the age of 69.

Lahiri had been suffering from obstructive sleep apnea and a recurrent chest infection before he passed away on Tuesday in Mumbai, his doctor, Deepak Namjoshi from the Criticare Hospital in the Juhu suburb, confirmed to CNN.

The singer had been hospitalized for 29 days before being discharged on February 15, Namjoshi said.

But his health soon began to deteriorate again upon returning home and he was brought back to the Criticare hospital in a critical state where he "succumbed to his illness" at around 11:45 p.m. local time on Tuesday, according to Namjoshi.

Lahiri's exact cause of death is not currently known and it is not clear whether obstructive sleep apnea played a role.

What Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a disorder in which an individual repeatedly stops and starts breathing in their sleep. According to the Mayo Clinic, it is the most common sleep-related breathing disorder.

There are several types of sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the muscles at the back of the throat intermittently relax and block the airway during sleep.

These muscles support structures including the tonsils, the tongue, the soft palate (the back of the roof of your mouth) and the uvula (the triangular piece of tissue hanging from the soft palate).

When the muscles relax, the airway narrows or closes as the individual breathes, which can interrupt normal breathing for several seconds. Every time this happens, oxygen levels in the blood fall and carbon dioxide builds up.

In response, the brain briefly awakens the individual from their slumber so that they can reopen their airway. Normally, these awakenings are so brief that the person with OSA does not even remember them.

When the person wakes up, they may be short of breath, although this is usually corrected after one or two deep breaths.

These breathing interruptions can occur numerous times each night, impairing the individual's ability to enter deep sleep and feel refreshed the next day.

While OSA may not be able to cause death in and of itself, sleep apnea has been associated with several life-threatening conditions. For example, research has shown that having sleep apnea can increase your risk of stroke and sudden cardiac death.

In fact, the American Sleep Apnea Association estimates that around 38,000 people die every year in the United States from heart disease with sleep apnea as a complicating factor.

Among the symptoms of OSA according to the Mayo Clinic are excessive daytime sleepiness, loud snoring, episodes of interrupted breathing during sleep, abrupt awakenings accompanied by gasping or choking, awakening with a dry mouth or sore throat, morning headaches, difficulty concentrating during the day, mood changes, high blood pressure and decreased libido.

There are treatments available for obstructive sleep apnea, which include a device that uses positive pressure to keep the airway open during sleep. Other options include a special mouthpiece that moves the jaw forward, while in some cases, surgery may be considered.

Bollywood music composer and singer Bappi Lahiri
Indian Bollywood music composer and singer Bappi Lahiri poses during the Christmas and New Year's Bollywood Disco Carnival in Mumbai on December 18, 2015. Lahiri passed away on Tuesday in Mumbai. STR/AFP via Getty Images