PV Sleep Well: Sleep Apnea and Heart Disease

Sleep apnea and its main symptom – loud snoring – have long been viewed as an annoyance. Just ask someone who has to share a room with a loud snorer if sleep apnea is a problem. But there’s growing evidence that sleep apnea isn’t just annoying; it can be bad for your heart, too.

Untreated sleep apnea is one risk factor for heart disease. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in America. Sleep apnea increases the risk of irregular heart rate, coronary heart disease, heart attacks and congestive heart disease. Sleep apnea affects even one’s heart shape. Sleep apnea causes the heart to swell and thicken the walls reducing the hearts ability to pump.

Sleep apnea may be linked to heart disease because of the drop in oxygen that occurs during sleep apnea. When the oxygen level drops, carbon dioxide level increases. Your brain senses trouble and tells your body to release adrenaline-like substances into the bloodstream which increases blood pressure, thus the link to sleep apnea and high blood pressure. Because of low oxygen, your body also releases other substances that can eventually damage the endothelium (inner lining of your body’s blood vessels), and it is this damage that might eventually cause or worsen high blood pressure and other forms of cardiovascular disease or heart problems.

According to researcher Neomi Shah, M.D. of Yale University, “While previous studies have shown an association between sleep apnea and heart disease, ours is a large study that allowed us to not only follow patients for five years and look at the association between sleep apnea and the combined outcome of heart attack and death, but also adjust for other traditional risk factors for heart disease. We recommend that patients who experience symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea – excessive daytime sleepiness or snoring along with breathing pauses – consult their physician or sleep specialist. There is some evidence to make us believe that when sleep apnea is appropriately treated, the risk of heart disease can be lowered.”

According to a recent study, “While previous studies have shown an association between sleep apnea and heart disease, ours is a large study that allowed us to not only follow patients for five years and look at the association between sleep apnea and the combined outcome of heart attack and death, but also adjust for other traditional risk factors for heart disease,” says researcher Neomi Shah, M.D., of Yale University. “We recommend that patients who experience symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea–excessive daytime sleepiness, or snoring along with breathing pauses–consult their physician or sleep specialist,” Dr. Shah says. “There is some evidence to make us believe that when sleep apnea is appropriately treated, the risk of heart disease can be lowered.”

Diagnosing and treating sleep apnea is critical to successfully managing a person’s health, so if you are experiencing daytime sleepiness, load snoring or think that you may have sleep apnea, find a professional and have an overnight study performed. It could change your life, and potentially save it.

Wellness begins with a good night sleep.

by Rhnee Mohan

PV Sleep Well is located in Puerto Vallarta and specializes in testing for sleep apnea. We are also a supplier of CPAP equipment, available for sale or rent, CPAP accessories, supplies and oxygen concentrators. For additional information or to schedule a screening, visit PV Sleep Well

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