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Ignoring Sleep Apnea Could Affect your Heart

Posted on 7/25/2015 by Jeffery Gerhardt
A man suffering from sleep apnea and keeping his wife awake.Snoring can be quite annoying for people who have to listen to it all the time, but snoring can actually be a sign of something that is life threatening. In some cases, a snorer may stop breathing for a few seconds, which can lead to serious heart problems.
This condition is called sleep apnea. It is defined as a break in breathing that occurs from five to 30 times per hour when you sleep. These events wake up the sleeper as he gasps for breath. It can prevent someone from getting a good night's rest and also is associated with heart failure, stroke, hypertension and heart arrhythmia. These severe medical problems can be avoided if sleep apnea is diagnosed in its earliest stage.

Sleep Apnea Is Common

One out of five adults has at least a mild form of sleep apnea, according to the CDC. It usually affects men more than women. The most frequent type seen is what is called Obstructive Sleep Apnea. This is where weight in the upper chest region and neck cause a temporary block in the air flow.

This type of sleep apnea is closely associated with being overweight which is also a big risk factor for both heart disease and stroke. Also, the sleep deprivation that comes with sleep apnea can lead to one to be even more obese.

Sleep apnea has been determined in many clinical studies to be directly linked to heart problems, including high blood pressure and heart attack. Specifically, research shows that the repeated stopping and starting of breathing decreases the oxygen level in the blood which can cause the entire cardiovascular system to be more stressed.

Sleep Apnea Often Is Ignored

Snoring, as mentioned above, is the most common symptom of sleep apnea. Snoring often is seen by many of us, even some doctors, as something to chuckle at. However, snoring and gasping for breath usually is a sign that the body needs help. Many people may suffer from sleep apnea and do not even know that they suffer from it. Few people actually remember that they are struggling to breathe at night. In many cases, it is up to our loved ones to inform us that we may have sleep apnea.

Other Health Problems
Sleep apnea can eventually trigger many other health problems that may include excessive sleepiness, problems with memory and concentration, depression and restless leg syndrome.

Proper Treatments for Sleep Apnea

The most frequent treatment for this sleep disorder is continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP. This device requires the wearer to don a mask as they sleep. It reduces the air pressure in our breathing passages so they stay open all night long. This allows the wearer to sleep all night, to not wake, and to breathe freely without obstruction.

Some patients have difficulty adjusting to the CPAP mask, but there are many types available, so usually it is possible to find one that suits the patient. If CPAP does not work for you, we also have dental options that can help to treat sleep apnea. The dental mouth guard helps to reposition your tongue and mouth in order to promote proper, aka safe, breathing.

Note that it is possible to snore and not to have sleep apnea. However, sleep apnea is quite common when associated with snoring.

How to Diagnose Sleep Apnea

This medical problem can usually be uncovered for certain by conducting an overnight sleep study on the patient. In this study, a machine measures the oxygen saturation of the red blood cells. If this saturation level is under 90%, this is a major cause for worry.

If you think that you may be suffering from this disorder, it is imperative that you get tested for it immediately. Sleep apnea is serious and it can really lead to heart problems and other issues that shorten your life.

We are here to help you with your sleep apnea. Please call us at (512) 643-6060 to find out more.

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