While we tend to believe snoring is harmless – which is normally the case with mild to moderate snoring – this is not always the case.
Some cases of snoring are more complex. Obstructive sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder. It causes breathing to repeatedly stop and start during sleep.
These disruptive patterns of sleep have also been connected to poor health outcomes – including obesity, irregular heartbeat, and several heart conditions.
What Causes Sleep Apnea?
There are several types of sleep apnea. The three main types include:
- Obstructive sleep apnea – Most common form; occurs when the throat muscles relax.
- Central sleep apnea – When your brain doesn't send proper signals to muscles that control breathing.
- Complex sleep apnea syndrome – Is a combination of both obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea.
Cause of obstructive sleep apnea include some genetic predispositions, including narrowed airways, family history, age, and gender. Excess weight as well as alcohol and drug use are controllable factors contributing to apnea.
Main risk factors of central sleep apnea are age and gender, but also heart disorders. Having congestive heart failure increases risk of developing sleep apnea.
Evidence shows that severe forms of snoring – aka: sleep apnea – can cause or be caused by poor heart health.
How Snoring can be an Indicator of Heart Health
Severe snoring can be an indicator of your overall wellbeing, but also of underlying heart conditions. While congestive heart failure increases risk of developing central sleep apnea, obstructive sleep apnea can be an indicator of poor heart health.
Sleep apnea causes a snorer to repeatedly stops breathing for moments at a time, from five or up to thirty times per hour. These episodes normally wake the snorer while they gasp for air to catch their breath, preventing a restful sleep.
Poor quality of sleep is strongly associated with high blood pressure, heart palpitations, stroke, and heart failure. Its important to understand sleep apnea as a risk factor of severe heart problems and can lead to many cardiovascular complications.
Complications of Heart Problems and Poor Health
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States.
Heart problems indicated by sleep apnea can include:
- Heart disease – High blood pressure strains the artery walls and blood flow. Increases stroke and heart attack risk.
- Heart attack – Blood flow is blocked to the heart by a blood clot.
- Heart failure – Heart isn’t pumping as well as it should.
- Arrhythmia – Irregular heart beat that pumps blood less efficiently.
Avoid increasing your risk of developing these heart diseases by improving your heart health and consulting with a physician.
Improving Heart Health
One in five adults suffers from sleep apnea. Understanding it as an important indicator for heart problems is essential for keeping yourself healthy.
Seek advice from a physician if your snoring becomes severe and you are repeatedly woken up due to lack of air throughout the night.Other ways to decrease your heart disease risk is to loose weight, decrease alcohol and drug consumption, and eat a healthy diet.
Please seek proper medical care if you suspect that you have sleep apnea.