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How Heart Disease Can Be a Consequence of Untreated Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea can increase a person's risk for heart disease. This article throws light on the role of sleep apnea in causing heart diseases.
Madhura Pandit
Last Updated: Mar 19, 2018
Today, heart disease is the number one cause for death all over the world. It is therefore, essential to be aware of all the causes and risk factors of heart diseases. Having knowledge about these risk factors can help in treatment and prevention of the heart diseases. You must be aware that obesity and high blood pressure are some of the most common causes or risk factors of heart diseases. However, are you aware that sleep apnea can also increase the risk of heart diseases? Let us know more on it.
Sleep Apnea Linked to Heart Disease
In simplest terms, sleep apnea can be defined as sleep disorder in which the breathing of the person becomes very low and slow. There are very long pauses, which can last for a few seconds, in between breathing. Central sleep apnea is a condition that occurs when the brain does not send signals to the respiratory system to breathe. The causes include obesity or having blocked airway. In most cases, sleep apnea goes undiagnosed because the symptoms usually appear when the person is sleeping. Therefore, it is not easy to diagnose the condition immediately. However, there are certain warning signs and symptoms which one should look out for in order to diagnose the disorder quickly. Anxiety, insomnia, feeling sleepy during the day and irritability are other symptoms of sleep apnea. On the other hand, obstructive sleep apnea (which is the most common type of this disorder), can lead to long-term complications like high blood pressure and disorders of the heart.
Well, if you take a look at the definition of sleep apnea, you will find that along with a sleep disorder, it is more of a breathing disorder. People suffering from obstructive sleep apnea experience frequent collapsing of the airways. Therefore, they experience longer gaps in between breathing. Sometimes, the gaps can be as long as 10 seconds. It can be a dangerous condition if the person experiences this frequently, and for the entire period that he is asleep. The amount of oxygen that should actually reach to the vital organs reduces due to breathing problems. Secondly, The breathing trouble awakens the person from his sleep constantly throughout the night. Now, you must be aware that we sleep in order to give rest to all the organs in the body. However, this is not the case with people suffering from this disorder. Due to their breathing disorder, they have difficulty in having a sound sleep. This can increase the blood pressure and heart rate, resulting in heart diseases like heart attack and heart failure. Therefore, we see that heart disease, obstructive, central sleep apnea, all are related to each other. Sleep apnea can increase a person's risk for heart diseases by as much as 60%.
It is essential to diagnose the symptoms of sleep apnea and get is treated immediately. If you wake up in the night frequently, and experience dry mouth, feel out of breath, suffer from insomnia, have difficulty in having a sound and deep sleep, you should consult the doctor immediately. Treatment methods include use of a respiratory ventilator or a mask. The Positive Airway Pressure (PAP) or Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) is the best and the most effective method for treating sleep apnea. Secondly, your doctor may even advise change in sleeping habits and patterns in order to get sound sleep and cure insomnia. You should also reduce the intake of caffeine containing drinks, alcohol, to treat this disorder.
It should also be noted that obstructive sleep apnea, if left untreated, can also lead to death. Therefore, it is advisable to consult a doctor if you have any long-lasting disorders of sleep, and have them treated immediately. Take care!