Since February is American Heart Month, it is a good time to talk about the risk factors of heart disease and how living a heart-healthy life can help you avoid issues stemming from sleep apnea. The CDC states that heart disease is the number one cause of death for men and women in our country today. Thankfully, we can lower the risk of heart disease by diagnosing and treating sleep apnea!
Sleep Apnea and Your Heart
There is an established link between Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) and heart disease, hypertension, and blood vessels (your arteries, veins and capillaries). During sleep apnea episodes, your oxygen levels drop, making your blood pressure jump up and remain elevated into your waking hours. When you have issues with your heart’s rhythm from OSA, including atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat) and bradycardia (slow heart rate), you are four times more likely to experience atrial fibrillation compared to those who do not have OSA.
Coronary Artery Disease
People dealing with obstructive sleep apnea are also more likely to incur coronary artery disease. It is a condition where the hardening of the arteries arises as the tiny blood vessels sending blood and oxygen to your heart narrow. When this happens, you risk heart attacks and damage to your heart.
Fact: if you have severe OSA that is left untreated, you are twice as likely to have a heart attack in the future than those who don’t have OSA.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you sleep well at night?
- Are you waking up multiple times throughout the night, gasping for breath?
- Do you wake up tired after sleeping all night?
- Does your partner complain about your constant, loud snoring?
- Do you have trouble staying awake when driving or sitting down for long periods?
Sleep Apnea Issues
If any of these sound familiar, you are likely dealing with the effects of sleep apnea. With sleep apnea, when you recline, your soft palate, tongue, and other throat tissues may relax and fall back into your airway. When this happens, your airflow is restricted, making it hard to get enough oxygen. During OSA, your airflow is interrupted, so you don’t get the oxygen your organs need causing your body to release stress hormones.
You can take back your health by diagnosing sleep apnea and following up with proper treatment! Our sleep specialists are trained to spot obstructive sleep apnea. Did you know that having a large neck and waist size can indicate sleep apnea issues? The American Heart Association says that 34% of middle-aged men and 17% of middle-aged women suffer from sleep apnea. They also confirm that OSA can lead to Atrial fibrillation (improper heart rhythm) and heart failure. Thankfully, getting help for sleep apnea can help lower your blood pressure to healthy levels during the day and night. There are a variety of nonsurgical treatment therapies that can help you get healthy sleep.
Sleep Apnea Treatments
- CPAP therapy
- Positional therapy
- Oral appliances
- Nasal resistors
- Oropharyngeal exercises
Even behavioral changes like losing weight, exercising more, and avoiding alcohol and sedative medication before going to sleep can impact how you sleep. In some cases, sleep surgery can be a viable option for certain sleep apnea patients by enlarging the airway to lessen the possibility of collapsing while you sleep.
This February, take better care of your heart health by getting the sleep your mind and body need to thrive! We can help you with your sleep issues by diagnosing your sleep and finding the relief you need. Your body will thank you!