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Can Sleep Apnea Predict a Heart Attack?

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Many of the patients I see who complain about sleep issues have some level of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). In fact, as many one in five adults have at least a mild form of sleep apnea. People with obstructive sleep apnea are also more likely to have hypertension, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease.

Now, as a result of the latest research, when we test for sleep apnea we also examine and focus on the state of a person’s heart.

The link between sleep apnea and cardiovascular disease has been studied for several years. In 2013 it was announced that this link even includes the possibility of heart attacks related to obstructive sleep apnea. The head of a long-term study, , a cardiac electrophysiologist at Midwest Heart Specialists-Advocate Medical Group in Elmhurst, Ill., notes, “The presence and severity of sleep apnea are associated with a significantly increased risk of sudden cardiac death.”

There are a number of causes behind this association. Sleep apnea can cause you to stop breathing several times a night. When this happens, your blood oxygen levels go down, which can cause your heart rhythm to flutter. This is a heart complication that also occurs at the time of sudden cardiac death.

The problem is huge. In the United States alone, more than 450,000 deaths are caused each year by sudden cardiac death. 

These figures illustrate why anyone presenting with symptoms such as loud snoring, daytime fatigue, waking with a sore throat, hypertension, high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease should be tested for sleep apnea. One positive from the study on sleep apnea, and recognizing the link between sleep apnea and heart problems, is we have found that improving obstructive sleep apnea may dramatically improve the health of your heart. The longer your symptoms go untreated, however, the higher your chance for heart disease, stroke, or cardiac arrest.

The good news is there are ways to improve your sleep without surgery. Here are six recommendation I give to my patients who want to improve the quality of their sleep:

  1. Avoid caffeine in the evenings.
  2. Avoid excessive alcohol consumption: Too much alcohol can affect a person’s sleep.
  3. Create a regimen of regular physical activity.
  4. Arrange your bedroom into a calming, sleep-inducing environment.
  5. Establish a pre-sleep routine (bath, herbal tea, reading a book, etc.).
  6. Keep a consistent sleep cycle; this helps your internal clock stay regulated.

If you’re over 60, obese, and constantly tired or fatigued, make sure you are tested for sleep apnea. Older women especially should be tested for sleep apnea, and your doctor should also be evaluating you for signs of heart disease. Tests can show weak spots, and if caught early, this could save lives. Now, as we know more about the connection between sleep apnea and the heart, doctors can get more accurate results regarding any sleep troubles you may be experiencing.

Last Updated:9/8/2014
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Date: 12.12.2018, 19:49 / Views: 84334