Sleep Apnea and Risk for Heart Disease

Sleep apnea affects millions of Americans every year. The snoring can be difficult to deal with, both for those who have the condition and their partners. What many do not realize is that this disorder is not simply inconvenient. It also puts people at risk for many other health conditions.

Aside from the fact that it is never healthy to quit breathing, there are other life-threatening illnesses that can be associated with sleep apnea. Among these are cardiovascular problems like heart disease.

 The Problem

About 20% of people suffer from at least a mild version of sleep apnea. This condition can cause the patient to stop breathing anywhere up to 30 times an hour while they sleep. This can cause recurrent waking in the middle of the night and lead to hypertension, strokes, arrhythmia and even heart failure.

Heart disease, as well, is a leading cause of death among Americans and there is strong evidence connecting sleep apnea and related heart and lung conditions. While the exact relationship has yet to be clarified, it is likely that severe sleep apnea can be a marker for heart disease.

A Combination of Factors

This condition is also related to obesity, another condition that factors into the potential for heart disease. When one combines all of the factors together, apnea becomes a very serious problem for many people. The best way to address the issue is to eliminate the underlying causes.

Take It Seriously

Many people who snore just do not take the problem seriously. When partners complain about the snoring, they are dismissive or get offended. This is exactly the wrong thing to do. If it is pointed out that you snore badly, you should seek medical treatment immediately.

Treatment

There are several treatments for sleep apnea, but the first step is to have a sleep study done. During this study, doctors will monitor your breathing and count the stoppages to characterize how chronic or serious the condition may be.

If the ailment is found to be present, treatments can be had, such as CPAP, or continuous positive airway pressure. This consists of a mask worn while sleeping which opens up the air passages. In this manner the air pressure remains constant and allows the sleeper to breathe normally throughout the night. Wearing the mask can take some getting used to, but as technology advances, the equipment becomes less intrusive.

Addressing the Causes

Addressing the causes of this condition is also an important factor in controlling the condition. Since obesity is commonly affiliated with the problem, weight loss can often alleviate the symptoms and, in some cases, can remove the issue entirely. Work with your doctor to determine if there are ways you can control or aid the condition with lifestyle changes.

Sleep apnea is not something to be taken lightly. It is a serious condition that can lead to deadly complications down the line. If you or a loved one is having problems with chronic snoring and breathing, give us a call for help today.

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