How Does Sleep Apnea Hurt Heart Health?
Your snoring is more than just a little annoying.
And no, we don’t mean it’s a lot annoying.
Your snoring could be a symptom of untreated sleep apnea, and if it is, then it could be putting you at risk for a variety of cardiovascular problems, including heart attacks.
At Hubbard & Leath Dental, we don’t just see treating sleep apnea as a way of helping your spouse sleep better at night. We also see it as a way to help you spend more time with your spouse, your family, and your friends.
Snoring, frequent daytime sleepiness, waking up with a dry mouth, morning headaches, and irritability all may be symptoms of sleep apnea. If you suspect that this sleep disorder is affecting you or your loved ones, please contact our dentist office in Rochester, MI. We want to help sooner not later.
Your Heart And Sleep Apnea
Millions of Americans have sleep apnea, but a majority are unaware that they have this condition according to the American Sleep Apnea Association.
Apnea is derived from a Greek word that means “without breathing.” Someone with sleep apnea has trouble breathing when they fall asleep. Your body prefers to keep you breathing. If you stop breathing when you fall asleep, your body will wake you up several times a night to make sure you take breaths when needed.
You may not remember those instances, but each time it happens your sleep cycle is disrupted. Since this can happen from four to more than 30 times per hour, you may never reach the stage of deep sleep that many experts consider an essential part of healthy sleep.
Scientists know that people with obstructive sleep apnea are more likely to develop high blood pressure. They also know that your risk of heart problems increase as well.
According to the American Thoracic Society, up to 70 percent of people admitted to hospital with coronary artery disease (hardening of the arteries) also have sleep apnea. This narrowing of your arteries also is part of the reason your risk of a heart attack is higher as well.
People with untreated sleep apnea also are four times more likely to have an irregular heartbeat than the rest of the population.
Health scientists know the effects that sleep apnea can have on our bodies, but they are still trying to understand why.
One hypothesis has to do with oxygen levels in your blood. The frequent breathing stoppages that are a defining part of sleep apnea can lead to a reduction in your oxygen levels. It’s possible that your lower oxygen levels may be causing damage to your blood vessels.
This can lead to stress on your heart, which may cause some sleep apnea patients to develop enlarged hearts in the literal sense.
Other Health Risks Connected to Sleep Apnea
As we noted earlier, frequent daytime sleepiness may be a symptom of sleep apnea.
You may experience this while watching television in the afternoon. You may feel this while sitting in front of a computer at work.
But the scariest part about this is you may experience this while behind the wheel of a vehicle or piece of equipment. We don’t need to explain why this is dangerous. We do want to point out that people with untreated sleep apnea are twice as likely to be the driver in an automotive accident than people who do not have this condition.
We want to stress that sleep apnea can affect anyone of any age. With that in mind, the Mayo Clinic has noted that some groups are more likely to develop sleep apnea than others:
◼︎ People who are overweight
◼︎ Men with necks larger than 17 inches and women with necks larger than 15 inches
◼︎ People with narrow airways
◼︎ Males, who are twice as likely as women to have sleep apnea
◼︎ Use of alcohol, sedatives, and other substances that can cause your throat to relax
◼︎ Smoking, which increases your risk of sleep apnea threefold
You should also be aware of whether sleep apnea runs in your family and that your risk of developing sleep apnea increases as you get older.
Knowing the risks associated with sleep apnea is one thing, getting help is another. Hubbard & Leath Dental may be able to help you arrange a sleep study to determine if you have sleep apnea.
If you have already been diagnosed, but you are having trouble with a CPAP machine, we may be able to help with an alternative treatment. We can create an oral appliance that can help you sleep easier without the complications that come with wearing a mask while you are trying to sleep.