Sleep apnea is claimed to be a general disorder that causes one or more gaps in breathing during sleep. A new study claims that frivolous users of the drug called ecstasy could be at an elevated danger of acquiring sleep apnea.

Sleep Apnea has supposedly been associated with cognitive issues in addition to stroke and heart attack. Approximately 15 million Americans are said to be suffering from sleep apnea.

Study author Una McCann, MD, of The John Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, commented, “People who use ecstasy need to know that this drug damages the brain and can cause immediate and dangerous problems such as sleep apnea.”

The study examined around 71 people who had used ecstasy, also called MDMA, 25 times or more. They also tested about 62 people who had never taken ecstasy. All the subjects were hooked up to a machine which supposedly gauged their breathing and nasal pressure while they were sleeping.

It was discovered that the odds of ecstasy users to risk suffering from sleep apnea were 8 times more as opposed to those who did not take the drug. The two groups seem to have a comparable rate of people with mild apnea. Around 21 percent of ecstasy users apparently had mild apnea as compared to 27 percent of non-users. It was seen that supposedly only ecstasy users suffered from moderate or severe apnea, with around 13 percent having moderate apnea and about one percent with severe apnea.

The study also discovered that the longer an individual had taken ecstasy, the elevated the rate of sleep apnea incidents. Obesity has supposedly been revealed to be a threat issue for sleep apnea. It was also found that the possibility of suffering from apnea appeared to be higher for ecstasy users as opposed to those who were obese.

McCann remarked, “Our findings may be explained by how ecstasy damages neurons related to serotonin, a chemical in the brain that is involved in sleep regulation and breathing, among other important functions.”

McCann added by mentioning that sleep apnea in itself is dangerous, but it can also contribute to thinking problems in people who use ecstasy because chronic sleep disruption is known to have a negative effect on how a person functions during the daytime.

The study is published online in the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.