Most people don’t realize they’re suffering from sleep apnea until they’ve received a proper diagnosis. As such, it’s fairly easy to overlook the potentially devastating effect the condition could have on your health. Sleep apnea can cause your breathing to stop 5 to 30 times every hour while you’re asleep, and the loss of oxygen can put a strain on your body – and that naturally includes your heart. Read on to learn more about the connection between breathing-related sleep disorders and heart health – and why being proactive about improving the quality of your slumber might save your life.
What Link Has Been Found Between Sleep Apnea and Heart Health?
According to Harvard Medical School, patients with untreated sleep apnea are up to five times more likely to experience a fatal heart disease. Furthermore, roughly 47 to 83 percent of patients with cardiovascular disease are also found to have sleep apnea. Note that this link may be partially due to the fact that heart problems and breathing-related sleep disorders are both connected to obesity. That said, the direct effect of sleep apnea on your heart cannot be overlooked.
How Does Sleep Apnea Damage Your Heart?
During sleep apnea, breathing is repeatedly stopped, causing oxygen levels in your body to drop. As a result, your brain will release adrenaline due to the stress that a lack of oxygen places on your body. If adrenaline levels remain high for an extended amount of time, your blood pressure will rise. High blood pressure can easily lead to stroke and heart disease – two leading causes of death and disability in the United states.
Do You Have Sleep Apnea?
It’s estimated that about 20 percent of adults have some form of sleep apnea. Anyone can suffer from the condition, but it tends to be more common in men as well as people who are overweight. The most noticeable sign of sleep apnea is typically loud snoring, which will most likely be reported by a roommate or sleeping partner. Other symptoms are more subtle, but they might include chronic exhaustion, insomnia, occasionally waking up gasping for air, general irritability, and weight gain.
What to Do About Sleep Apnea
The good news is that you can reverse much of the impact sleep apnea has on your health by having the disorder properly treated. After having a sleep study performed, you can talk to a sleep dentist about getting an oral appliance that keeps your airway open so that you don’t have to worry about it becoming blocked at night. Different appliances might be used depending on your needs and the severity of your disorder.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that your health will only grow worse the longer your sleep apnea goes unaddressed. Have your disorder treated as soon as possible to keep your heart safe and your nights peaceful.
About the Author
For over 25 years, Dr. Kent Smith has been helping over 10,000 patients overcome their sleep breathing disorders at his practice in Irving. He is double board certified in dental sleep medicine, and he currently serves as the president of the American Sleep and Breathing Academy. If you’d like to schedule an appointment or have concerns about how sleep apnea is affecting your heart, get in touch with Dr. Smith at Sleep Dallas through his website or by calling (844) 409-4657.