Sleep Apnea Affects the Heart

Mention the term “heart attack” and most people think of a middle-aged man clutching his chest. But many do not consider that a bad night’s sleep could have a connection with Cardiovascular Disease. A constant trouble sleeping is commonly due to Sleep Apnea, or irregular breathing while you’re asleep. With Sleep Apnea, breathing is briefly interrupted or becomes very shallow during sleep. These pauses typically last between 10 to 20 seconds and can occur constantly throughout the night.

“Untreated sleep apnea prevents you from getting a good night’s sleep. When breathing is paused, you’re jolted out of your natural sleep rhythm. As a consequence, you spend more time in light sleep and less time in the deep, restorative sleep you need to be energetic, mentally sharp, and productive the next day.” So, how do you know if you have Sleep Apnea?

Signs & Symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea(OSA)

      • Daytime sleepiness, no matter how much time you spend in bed
      • Loud and chronic snoring
      • Moodiness
      • Memory loss
      • Choking, snorting, or gasping during sleep
      • Long pauses in breathing
      • Waking up with a dry mouth or sore throat
      • Morning headaches
      • Restless or fitful sleep

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The Link Between OSA and Cardiovascular Disease(CVD)

A study from the Journal of the American College of Cardiology says “Sleep-related breathing disorders are highly prevalent in patients with established cardiovascular disease. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) affects an estimated 15 million adult Americans and is present in a large proportion of patients with hypertension and in those with other cardiovascular disorders…” The relationship between OSA and CVD is clear:
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  • CVD related mortality is higher in severe OSA patients
  • A higher level of apnea instances is associated with an increased risk of CVD
  • OSA increases the chance of having CVD by 27% and a stroke by 58%
Large numbers of people with some form of CVD, including 35% of people with simple hypertension, will have OSA also. One review/study found that a significant 83% of people with drug-resistant hypertension had OSA.
 
CVD’s connection with Sleep Apnea comes from when OSA occurs, oxygen levels in the bloodstream sometimes drop to ≤60%, disrupting the normal blood flow responses to sleep. Apneas can occur often throughout the night and toward the end of the apnea episodes, blood pressure (BP) can reach levels as high as 240/130 mm Hg. This level of stress initiate a range of disease mechanisms which may act to promote cardiovascular disease.
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What to do?

If you think that you are someone you know has Sleep Apnea, it’s important to see a sleep doctor. Our sleep specialists can evaluate your symptoms and help you find an effective treatment. A sleep study may involve the following:

Polysomnogram (PSG) – a diagnostic test which monitors brain activity, breathing and leg movements which helps to evaluate sleep apnea (obstruction of air flow) or a condition known as periodic leg movments of sleep.

Multiple Sleep Latency Test (MSLT)  – a daytime sleep study which evaluates how fast a person falls asleep.

Treatment for sleep apnea has come a long way in recent times, and treatments for and sleep apnea usually include treating the underlying medical condition causing the apnea, such as a heart or neuromuscular disorder or using supplemental oxygen while you sleep.

Amarillo Diagnostic Clinic is the only comprehensive clinic in the Panhandle which offers patients evaluations and follow-up consultations with board certified physicians in Internal Medicine, Pulmonary Diseases and Sleep Medicine.  We are also the only Sleep Center in the Panhandle area accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

To learn more about Amarillo Diagnostic Clinic, or to schedule a sleep study click here.

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