Sleep apnea and the risk to heart health

Sleep apnea is a condition that causes a person to stop breathing while asleep. While it may sound harmless, it can have far-reaching health implications, including impacting your heart. Left untreated, sleep apnea could potentially have fatal consequences.

Apparently, one in five American adults will suffer mild sleep apnea at some point in their lives. It affects men more than women and heavier people more than slimmer people. If you smoke, drink, have an unhealthy lifestyle or have allergies that affect the nose, you are more likely to suffer from the condition.

Risks of sleep apnea

There are a range of health risks associated with sleep apnea. They include:

  • Higher rate of mortality through cardiovascular disease.
  • Doubled risk of stroke or heart attack.
  • Heightened risk of congestive heart failure.
  • Poor overall health.

We know that during a sleep apnea event, you stop breathing and the oxygen levels in your blood drops significantly. This causes your brain to wake you to restore breathing and increase oxygen intake. Part of this process is the constriction of blood vessels, which increases blood pressure and the pressure placed on the heart.

Usually, blood pressure drops anything up to twenty percent during sleep. With sleep apnea, it can increase by the same amount. This then causes generally high blood pressure, which puts severe pressure on the heart and can lead to stroke or heart attack.

Effective treatment for sleep apnea

While we don’t mean to scare you with this article, we really need you to understand the severity of sleep apnea. Too many Americans just ignore the condition and this will not help. The quicker you receive treatment, the quicker we can address the condition and lower pressure on your heart.

There are a couple of effective treatments for sleep apnea. They include lifestyle changes as well as devices such as the CPAP machine or oral devices to help keep your tongue and jaw aligned during sleep.

Lifestyle changes include stopping smoking, losing weight, drinking less and exercising more. The CPAP, or Continuous Positive Airway Pressure, device is a very effective treatment for sleep apnea. It is a breathing apparatus with a mouthpiece that maintains positive pressure and prevents your airways from closing. It is a very effective treatment for sleep apnea.

Oral devices called mandibular advancement devices (MAD) can include an aligner type appliance that positions the tongue and jaw comfortably during sleep. It prevents the tongue moving back and blocking your airway and aligns the jaw to help maintain position.

There are surgeries available to treat sleep apnea but these are only ever considered as a last resort.

Aesthetic Family Dentistry offers very effective treatments for sleep apnea. Don’t delay, make an appointment today for a consultation.