Are you feeling that familiar elbow in your back night after night, or your/your partner’s snoring is so disruptive that you now sleep in separate rooms? Snoring can be a nuisance, but it can also represent a red flag that your heart and your health is in danger. Here is why you should not ignore the snore.
There are different types of sleep apnea, but obstructive sleep apnea is the most common and is characterized by pauses in breath throughout the night while you are sleeping, resulting in unrefreshing sleep. It is an underdiagnosed and undertreated condition. Snoring is one of the most obvious signs but other symptoms include:
- Waking up tired and fatigued through the day, feeling like you can easily fall asleep while driving or talking to someone
- Difficulty concentrating during the day
- Morning headaches
- Waking up gasping or choking
- Mood changes such as depression or irritability
- High blood pressure and high blood pressure that isn’t responding to treatment
When sleep apnea goes untreated it can increase your risk for the following:
- High blood pressure
- Heart attacks
- Arrhythmias or irregular heart beats
- Weight gain
The good news is sleep apnea IS treatable. Treatments include:
- A special face mask that delivers positive airway pressure throughout the night
- A special mouth piece (called mandibular advancement device) that thrusts your jaw forward to keep your airway open
- Weight loss
What’s more is that you need to wear your mask for only 4 hours at night to achieve a clinical benefit (although you will feel better if you are wearing it for all your sleep hours).
Not everyone who snores has sleep apnea but snoring shouldn’t be ignored, especially if you also wake gasping or choking in the night or your bed partner reports that you do.
Click here to take this 8 question quiz to quickly assess your likelihood of having sleep apnea. Even if you score low but are suffering with your sleep and feeling unrefreshed in the morning, you should consult your health care provider for support and a proper assessment.
Sleep apnea that goes untreated can wreak havoc on your overall health. Frequent apneic episodes during the night place a significant strain on your heart – it increases sympathetic activation, increases the resistance your heart has to pump against (called afterload), reduces the production of vasodilating substances such as nitric oxide which all contribute to a rise in blood pressure and risk for arrhythmias and cardiac events. Don’t ignore the snore!
Hasthi U. Dissanayake, Juliana T. Colpani, Kate Sutherland, et al. Obstructive sleep apnea therapy for cardiovascular risk reduction—Time for a rethink? Clin Cardiol. 2021 Dec; 44(12): 1729–1738.
Disclaimer: The information presented on this site does not constitute medical advice and does not replace the advice from your doctor. Always consult a qualified health care professional when changing or beginning a new health plan.
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