There are many factors such as weight, genetics and lifestyle that contribute to heart disease. One important factor in heart health is quality sleep.

People with untreated sleep apnea are often at risk for developing heart disease.

Sleep apnea is a disease that is most commonly associated with snoring and daytime sleepiness. Unfortunately, an estimated 80% of the 30-million Americans with sleep apnea go untreated. People with untreated sleep apnea are often at risk for developing heart disease.

About Sleep Apnea

Snoring and sleep apnea leads to body not getting enough oxygen, which signals the brain to wake up. The drop in oxygen coupled with the brain arousal can put a great deal of stress on the heart.

According to the National Institutes of Health, sleep apnea contributes to hypertension, stroke, heart attack, and atrial fibrillation.

What can you do?

Look for signs of sleep apnea – snoring is probably the most easily recognized.

“Not everyone who snores has sleep apnea but 30% for snorers have significant sleep apnea”, according to Dr. Richard O’Brien, Medical Director of the Rose Sleep Disorders Center.

Dr. O’Brien advises that “Snoring with gasping and pauses in breathing at night are strong signs of possible sleep apnea”

Once you have identified warning sign for sleep apnea, talk with your health care provider about it.  Your provider can refer you for sleep apnea testing. Convenient home testing is becoming more common.

Treatments for Sleep Apnea

The most common treatment is CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure). Oral appliances that adjust the jaw forward are also used.  Mild sleep apnea might not need any treatment, rather close monitoring for signs of progression of the disease.

There is not a clear link for all heart disease and sleep apnea.  It is unclear if mild sleep apnea is associated with an increased risk of heart disease.  However, the data are clear that moderate to severe sleep apnea has a definite link to cardiovascular disease.

If you have concerns about snoring and heart disease risk, the Rose Sleep Disorders Center has several decades of experience in helping with the diagnosis and treatment of sleep apnea.