How To Take Care Of Myself/manage Symptoms
Sleep apnea is a condition that can severely disrupt your life and put you at risk for life-threatening complications and events . Because of this, you shouldnt try to self-diagnose or self-treat it. If you think you have sleep apnea, you should schedule an appointment with a sleep specialist or ask a primary care provider to refer you to a sleep specialist.
How you can help with diagnosis
If you suspect you or a loved one has sleep apnea, you might be able to help a healthcare provider diagnose it. Video and audio recordings of a person sleeping, especially where the provider can hear breathing, can give a provider key evidence they need to speed up the diagnostic process.
What Sleep Conditions Can Hurt My Heart Health
Over time, sleep problems can hurt your heart health.
Sleep apnea happens when your airway gets blocked repeatedly during sleep, causing you to stop breathing for short amounts of time. Sleep apnea can be caused by certain health problems, such as obesity and heart failure.
Sleep apnea affects how much oxygen your body gets while you sleep and increases the risk for many health problems, including high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke. It is more common among Blacks, Hispanics, and Native Americans than among whites.7
Insomnia refers to trouble falling sleep, staying asleep, or both. As many as 1 in 2 adults experiences short-term insomnia at some point, and 1 in 10 may have long-lasting insomnia.8 Insomnia is linked to high blood pressure and heart disease. Over time, poor sleep can also lead to unhealthy habits that can hurt your heart, including higher stress levels, less motivation to be physically active, and unhealthy food choices.
For better sleep, get enough natural light, especially earlier in the day. Try going for a morning or lunchtime walk.
How Exactly Sleep Apnea Can Affect Your Heart
At first, it may seem a little surprising that interrupted breathing can affect your heart health so significantly. But your breathing and heart rate are more closely tied than you might suspect.
Sleep apneas trademark interruptions in breathing occur when a persons throat muscles relax, blocking the airwaves during sleep. Not only does this interrupt breathing, it also causes a drop in heart rate and blood pressure. After a few seconds of not breathing, a person usually stirs themselves with a choking or gasping sound and resumes breathing. The body works quickly to react by accelerating heart rate and increasing blood pressure.
After several years, this pattern can start to take a toll on your body.
Its a challenge for the heart to respond to this increased workload every night, says , at , part of Main Line Health. Over time, the walls of the heart begin to thicken and the structure of the heart changes. It becomes less flexible and can increase your risk of arrhythmia, heart disease and stroke.
Sleep apnea sufferers often have other risk factors for heart disease, too, like smoking, diabetes, a body mass index of 30 or more and obesity or overweight. Coupled with sleep apnea, this can make their heart disease risk much higher than the average persons.
Read Also: What Arm Hurts Before Heart Attack
How Sleep Apnea Affects The Heart
Poor-quality sleep and heart disease are connected.
We’ve all heard stories about super snorers, whose snorts and snores rattle windows and awaken the neighbors. Many of these people suffer from sleep apnea. In this condition, the airway becomes blocked, or the muscles that control breathing stop moving. Either way, breathing stops… and then resumes with a gasp. In the worst cases, this can happen hundreds of times every night.
Because sleep apnea sufferers are constantly awakened, they have poor-quality sleep and feel exhausted all day. They may also suffer from poor cardiovascular health. The sleep disorder is found in 47% to 83% of people with cardiovascular disease, 35% of people with high blood pressure, and 12% to 53% of people with heart failure, atrial fibrillation , and stroke. Researchers estimate that untreated sleep apnea may raise the risk of dying from heart disease by up to five times.
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Sleep And Congestive Heart Failure
Damage to the heart that hurts its ability to pump blood is called congestive heart failure . Sleep disorders can be both a cause and an effect of CHF. The low oxygen levels and high blood pressure related to obstructive sleep apnea can cause the kind of damage that leads to CHF. The heart muscle is unable to handle the stress caused by the OSA. People who have CHF from another cause will see it get worse if they then develop sleep apnea. If sleep apnea is treated, however, patients with CHF will see their heart function improve.
About 40% of people with CHF have a sleep disorder called central sleep apnea . CSA occurs when the brain fails to tell the lungs to breathe. As this signal is lost, the lungs do not take in the oxygen that your body needs. This happens most often as people are falling asleep. CSA also causes people to wake up many times in the night. When they wake up, their heart rate and blood pressure both rise.
The low levels of oxygen that result from CSA are very harmful. The result is that CSA may worsen heart failure. In return, the heart failure may promote CSA. This causes a horrible cycle of declining heart function. Properly treating the heart failure is the best way to prevent CSA. If CSA still develops, there are treatments that can be used to keep it from occurring.
Recommended Reading: What Does It Mean If Your Heart Rate Is High
Lowering The Risk Of Cardiovascular Disease With Cpap Therapy
In a study published by the Journal of the American Heart Association, 39 participants with obstructive sleep apnea and prediabetes were assigned to either in-laboratory all-night CPAP theory or an oral placebo for two weeks. Throughout the study, researchers monitored the patients resting heart rates using a mobile device. The studys goal was to determine if treating sleep apnea with continuous positive airway pressure would reduce the individuals resting heart rate during the day.
Following the two-week study, researchers found that the patients given CPAP therapy showed a reduced daytime resting heart rate of about 4.1 fewer beats per minute when compared to those receiving the placebo. As a result, the study concluded that identifying and treating obstructive sleep apnea with CPAP therapy could positively impact cardiovascular prevention.
Low Sleeping Heart Rate
Lower heart rates can signal a healthier heart, as with athletes, but that is not always the case. Bradycardia, which is more common in older adults, describes a resting heart rate that is below 60 beats per minute .
A number of health conditions can contribute to lower heart rates, including heart disease, rheumatic fever, Lyme disease, and sleep apnea. Certain substances and medications may also cause a lower heart rate. Underlying health conditions such as anorexia, hypothyroidism, and sleep apnea can sometimes contribute to a lower heart rate.
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Sleep Apnea Obesity And Heart Disease
Research suggests that obesity may play an important role in the development of both sleep apnea and heart disease. It is important to keep in mind that sleep apnea alone, with or without obesity, can increase the risk for heart disease. Sleep apnea and obesity independently increase the risk of health conditions that negatively affect heart health, like hypertension , unhealthy cholesterol levels, and diabetes.
Obesity is a common cause of sleep apnea Trusted SourceNational Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute The NHLBI is the nation’s leader in the prevention and treatment of heart, lung, blood and sleep disorders.nhlbi.nih.gov, often related to increased deposits of fat in the neck that narrow or block the upper airway during sleep. Researchers have found that even a 10% increase in body weight increases the risk of OSA by six-fold Trusted SourceNational Library of Medicine, Biotech InformationThe National Center for Biotechnology Information advances science and health by providing access to biomedical and genomic information.pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. While 60 to 90% of people with sleep apnea also have obesity Trusted SourceAmerican Diabetes Association JournalsThe American Diabetes Association is a non-profit that seeks to educate the public about diabetes and to help those affected by it through funding research to manage, cure and prevent diabetes.diabetesjournals.org, only around 30% of people diagnosed with obesity have sleep apnea.
What Can I Expect If I Have Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a condition that can severely disrupt your life, and it increases your risk of several conditions that are life-threatening medical emergencies. Even if it doesnt cause these dangerous complications, people with sleep apnea cant get restful sleep, so they constantly feel tired. In the worst cases, this condition can make them so tired that they may fall asleep during the day, leading to accidents or causing problems with work, hobbies, social activities, etc.
Dangerous complications of sleep apnea
Sleep apnea is a dangerous condition because it can cause several different complications, many of which are severe or life-threatening. These include:
How long does sleep apnea last?
Sleep apnea is a long-term, chronic condition. For some people, its possible to resolve it by reducing their weight or undergoing certain treatments. For others, it may be a lifelong condition.
The outlook for sleep apnea
The outlook for sleep apnea depends on many factors. The severity and type of sleep apnea make a difference. However, adhering to treatment is usually the biggest determining factor in how this condition affects your life.
Read Also: Biggest Cause Of Heart Attack
How Sleep Apnea Affects Your Every Day Life
The majority of people with sleep apnea experience these results:.
- Disrupted sleep and daytime tiredness.
- Increased threat of heart attack, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.
- Unsafe driving and workplace accidents.
And they can cause:
- Anxiety. Depression can trigger a wide variety of symptoms. Among the most typical signs is extreme drowsiness, linked to sleep apnea, absence of oxygen or snoring.
- Poor memory and intellectual function. Sleep apnea and its result on memory and intelligent function is an extensive problem..
- Higher threat of losing a task or getting fired. Sleeping well is among the most important elements of preserving psychological and physical health. Studies reveal that individuals who support a healthy sleep schedule are less most likely to lose their tasks or get fired due to absences. Sleep apnea, defined by irregular stops briefly in breathing or shallow breaths during sleep, can trigger patients to feel tired the next day and make them more susceptible to getting fired.
- It is typical for relationships to suffer when one or both partners suffer from sleep apnea. It is important to get treatment for your partner if they are suffering from sleep apnea.
Iii The Effects Of Heart Disease On Sleep
Heart disease can affect your ability to sleep in subtle ways. People with congestive heart failure often have a hard time falling asleep or staying asleep. This is due to the shortness of breath that is caused by CHF. This shortness of breath is often made worse when you lie down. The blood in your legs flows back into the heart. This can bring the heart more blood than it is able to pump.
People who have these symptoms may feel like they have insomnia. Doctors call these symptoms:
- Paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea
Heart disease also causes people to worry about their health. They are often afraid that they might have a heart attack or stroke. This anxiety can make it very hard to sleep at night. Over time, this sleep problem can develop into chronic insomnia.
Also Check: Symptoms Of Congestive Heart Failure In Women
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The Connection Between Sleep Apnea And Heart Rhythm
Everyone has experienced a poor nights sleep at one point or another and is no stranger to the crankiness and grogginess resulting from it. As you pour another cup of coffee to get through the day, you hope to sleep better the next night only to repeat the routine the following day. This is a constant struggle for the sufferers of undiagnosed or untreated sleep apnea. Unfortunately, most adults are unaware they have sleep apnea, and if left untreated, it can lead to more significant health concerns, particularly heart disease. Sleep apnea has been linked with certain heart-related conditions such as high blood pressure, heart arrhythmias, atrial fibrillation, coronary artery disease, heart attack, heart failure, and even strokes. However, if sleep apnea is diagnosed and treated effectively, it can reduce the risk of these cardiovascular complications.
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Diagnosing And Treating Sleep Apnea For Better Health
Its important to treat sleep apnea, because it can have long-term consequences for your health. While there have been some high-profile deaths linked to sleep apneasuch as with Judge Antonin Scalia Jun says that the true risk is from damage done over time.
Obstructive sleep apnea can range from mild to severe, based on a measurement system called the apnea-hypopnea index . The AHI measures the number of breathing pauses that you experience per hour that you sleep.
Obstructive sleep apnea is classified by severity:
- Severe obstructive sleep apnea means that your AHI is greater than 30
- Moderate obstructive sleep apnea means that your AHI is between 15 and 30
- Mild obstructive sleep apnea means that your AHI is between 5 and 15
Whether or not you need treatment for sleep apnea depends on its severity, whether or not you have symptoms such as sleepiness and other health conditions. For example, if you have risk factors for heart disease, your doctor might opt to treat you even for mild sleep apnea. On the other hand, if you have a severe case of sleep apnea, your doctor might insist on treatment even if youre not sleepy.
The main choice of therapy is a breathing device called a CPAP, or continuous positive airway pressure machine. A CPAP machine pipes humidified air through the nose, which creates air pressure to keep your throat open while asleep. This prevents pauses in breathing.
Not very relaxing, right? Luckily, its treatable.
The Basics Of Sleep Apneas Effect On The Heart
Sleep apnea can come in two forms. Central sleep apnea, the rarer form, happens when signals from the brain that instruct the breath are interrupted during sleep. The more common form is obstructive sleep apnea, where soft tissues constrict the airway and it collapses during sleep.
The first evidence of a connection between heart health and sleep apnea is how often cardiovascular disease and sleep disturbance shows up in the same individuals. One study found that 50 percent or more of cardiovascular patients have sleep apnea, compared to less than 5 percent in the overall population ^1. Another study determined that patients with both heart failure and sleep apnea died at twice the rate of those with just heart failure ^2.
Further evidence of the connection comes from the fact that central sleep apnea, while rare in the general population, commonly occurs in patients with heart failure ^3.
Sudden cardiac death is also more likely to strike sleep apnea sufferers during their sleeping hours, exactly the time of day when sudden cardiac death is least likely to hit people without sleep apnea ^4.
Generally the worse the apnea, the greater the risk, says Virend Somers, M.D., who directs the Cardiovascular Facility and the Sleep Facility within Mayo Clinics Center for Clinical and Translational Science and was senior author on that study.
Also Check: Resting Heart Rate Of 120
The Risk Of Glaucoma Is Higher If You Have Sleep Apnea
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology , people who suffer from sleep apnea are more likely to develop glaucoma, an eye disease that can eventually cause vision loss, than those who dont have apnea.
Its not yet fully understood how sleep apnea may cause glaucoma, but as with other health problems associated with sleep apnea, researchers hypothesize that the eye disorder could stem from the decreased levels of oxygen circulating in the blood, according to the AAO.
Hrv And Cardiovascular Mortality And Morbidity
Due to HRV being a marker of autonomic innervation of the heart, it has been suggested that increased sympathetic activity during sleep due to OSA may be a link to cardiovascular disease . Sympathetic dominance during sleep has been shown in those with ischemic heart disease , coronary artery disease and post-MI . Consequently, HRV parameters are markers for adverse CVD prognoses .
However, despite the clear association between OSA and mortality and CVD, more studies need to be done to determine the exact physiological mechanisms by which this occurs, and if OSA is an independent causal factor of increased mortality and CVD risk as suggested. From the current data, altered HRV features such as SDNN are good predictors of cardiovascular mortality. There appears to be a correlation of higher mortality risk and lower SDNN, but the cut-off point varies depending on the populations and the length of ECG segments. Therefore, determination of a clear cut-off value of SDNN requires further investigation .
Atrial Fibrillation May Also Cause Sleep Apnea
According to a 2017 article published by Frontiers in Neurology, the relationship between obstructive sleep apnea and atrial fibrillation is likely bidirectional, meaning that the two conditions can cause each other.
Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common form of the sleep apnea, and itâs caused by the abnormal relaxation of muscles in the upper airway, which blocks and interrupts proper breathing during sleep. The condition has been shown to be an independent risk factor for stroke, and it also may increase the risk of developing atrial fibrillation.