February 20, 2020
sleep apnea

Can sleep apnea have a damaging effect on your heart?

Do you suffer from momentary stop of breathing while you sleep? If yes, chances are high that you suffer from untreated sleep apnea and if this occurs repeatedly while asleep, this could cause severe blow to your heart. In fact, David Van Wagoner, a molecular cardiologist explains that sleep apnea can lead to arrhythmias and consequential heart failure because sleep apnea leads to high blood pressure.

There’s a rather strong relation between cardiac arrhythmia and sleep apnea. Researches reveal several episodes of collapse of upper airway that may trigger arrhythmia events. Few other ways in which sleep apnea can boost the risk of arrhythmias and heart failure are as follows:

  • Alterations in levels of carbon dioxide
  • Constant episodes of lowered oxygen which doctors call hypoxia
  • Increased levels of triggers of inflammation
  • Pressure changes which lead to direct effects on the heart


Do you know what happens during momentary stop of breath?

Whenever you stop breathing, your heart rate falls and hence your body is deprived of oxygen. Soon after, your involuntary reflexes make you startle awake at the end of that period of not breathing. During this moment, the heart rate accelerates fast and hence increases your blood pressure. These are few of the changes which occur whenever you stop breathing.

In case you experience sleep apnea frequently, your body will begin to experience chronic impacts. According to medical data, if you stop breathing minimum 30 times in an hour, this is considered as risky. Nevertheless, sometimes even lower frequency rates can be considered risky.

Types of Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea comes in two forms:

  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea: OSA occurs when there is an obstruction of your airway which leads to inability to breathe during normal sleep. This kind of disorder is common among men who are obese and with increasing age. Other than that, there are even genetic factors that play a role in this sleep disease.
  • Central Sleep Apnea: This occurs when your brain doesn’t send signals to the muscles which are in control of your breathing process. This disorder is less understood and less common. It also has a link with stroke or heart failure.

Treatment options for sleep apnea

Here are few ways in which you can control sleep apnea or get it treated:

  • Use continuous positive airway pressure or CPAP as this is the most standard treatment for sleep apnea. The person wears a mask over his nose and mouth while sleeping and the machine pushes air through it gently so that the airway doesn’t get closed, prevents lowering of oxygen and sudden hike in BP.
  • Lose weight by having a nutritious diet, decreasing intake of calories and exercising regularly. Once you lose weight, speak to your doctor and go through another assessment of sleep apnea.
  • See your doctor for symptoms of sleep apnea. Check with your physician whenever you think you may have sleep apnea. Heavy snoring and sleepiness during daytime are potential clues for OSA.

With the increase in prevalence of cardiac arrhythmias due to sleep apnea, it is recommended that you don’t procrastinate while meeting with a physician.

Check how to keep a healthy heart.

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