The Connection Between Sleep And Heart Disease Explained

ADC - sleep and heart disease

Scientific studies have shown a direct connection among sleep, sleep disorders, and heart disease. There is an increased risk of sudden cardiac death (dying from heart stoppage) in the first several hours after waking up. It is known that in there is an increased work demand on the heart that occurs when you wake up. People with sleep-related breathing disorders are more likely to have high blood pressure and are at risk of heart disease and stroke. Treating certain sleep-related breathing disorders may actually decrease a person’s chances of developing certain heart diseases.

Effects of Heart Disease on Sleep

As outlined above, sleep-related breathing disorders can directly cause heart disease. Yet, there are side effects of heart disease on sleep that, though more subtle, are also important to address. For instance, patients with congestive heart failure often report difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep This may be due to shortness of breath that often accompanies heart failure. This shortness of breath is often worse when the patient lies down because blood in the legs flows back into the heart and can overwhelm its ability to pump.

Heart failure patients may have orthopnea (shortness of breath when lying down) or paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea (waking up from sleep short of breath). Patients who experience these symptoms may feel like they have insomnia since their sleep is interrupted. In addition to experiencing these complications from heart disease, patients often worry about the long-term consequences of a heart attack or chronic heart disease. Anxiety by itself can lead to the development of chronic sleep problems.

There are many complex relationships between heart conditions and sleep-related breathing disorders. People with heart conditions need to take special care and seek medical attention in order to ensure their ability to sleep well.

Good Sleep and A Healthy Heart

Many things can be done to maintain a healthy heart: eat a nutritional diet, maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly, get regular medical check-ups, and get adequate amounts of good quality sleep. If you have any kind of heart condition, it is especially important to watch for signs that you may have a sleep-related breathing disorder, such as OSA, which could stress your heart. People with OSA are often overweight and experience loud snoring, gasping or choking episodes while sleeping, as well as trouble staying awake during the daytime If you already have hypertension or cardiovascular disease, talk with your healthcare professional about whether or not you may have a sleep and breathing disorder, such as OSA or CSA.

It is also important that patients with congestive heart contrast to people with OSA, those with heart failure and CSA are commonly thin and may not snore at all. if your healthcare professional thinks that you have a sleep disorder, he or she may suggest you have a diagnostic test called a sleep study, or refer you to a sleep medicine specialist. Sleep studies are usually done in a sleep laboratory. Small sensors called electrodes are attached to your body to measure your sleep, be able to determine whether you have any abnormalities in the quality of your sleep. Your healthcare professional is then given the results and the two of you can decide on the best course of treatment. Sleep disorders are treatable, and treatment can lead to a more healthy heart.

How to Sleep Well

These guidelines can help most people sleep better, as well as helping many individuals with different types of sleep disorders. For more specific guidelines about your own sleep problem, consult your healthcare professional.

  • Get up at the same time every day.
  • Go to bed only when sleepy.
  • Establish relaxing pre-sleep rituals such as a warm bath, light bedtime snack, or 10 minutes of reading.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Maintain a regular schedule.
  • Avoid caffeine within six hours of bedtime.
  • Try to nap at the same time every day; mid-afternoon is best for most people.
  • If sleeping pills are prescribed, they should be used conservatively. Most doctors avoid prescribing sleeping pills for periods longer than three weeks
  • Never combine sleeping pills and alcohol.

There are many complex relationships between heart conditions and sleep-related breathing disorders. People with heart conditions need to take special care and seek medical attention in order to ensure their ability to sleep well. Contact us to answer any questions or to set up an appointment.

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