What You Need to Know About How Sleep Apnea

What You Need to Know About How Sleep Apnea Affects Your Heart
Posted on 04/19/2022

If you notice that you have been waking up frequently in the middle of the night, and have woken yourself up from snoring, you may be suffering from sleep apnea. And if you are secretly suffering from sleep apnea, it may be detrimental to your health and cause high blood pressure, a stroke, and heart failure. At Federici Dental, not only do we provide comprehensive dental treatment, but sleep apnea treatment as well. If you think that you are suffering from sleep apnea, it’s important to get it checked out. If not, leaving sleep apnea untreated is bad for your cardiovascular health. Learn the importance of treating sleep apnea.

Why Care?

People that have sleep apnea suffer from breathing while sleeping. This is because it’s difficult to keep the upper airway open during sleep. Each time the airway closes during sleep, there is a pause in breathing. For people that have sleep apnea, this can happen 5-30 times an hour or more, causing someone to wake up suddenly, gasping for air.

When the airflow stops, the body releases stress hormones, which over time can lead to heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure. It also can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, liver problems, and metabolic syndrome. It’s estimated that patients with sleep apnea are 2-4 four times more likely to develop heart arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms) than people without this condition. Sleep apnea increases the risk of heart failure by 140% and the risk of coronary heart disease by 30%.

Someone that does suffer from sleep deprivation (because of sleep apnea) can gain weight, leading to obesity, which in turn makes sleep apnea worse.

Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

Aside from snoring, stopped breathing, or gasping for air during sleep, symptoms may seem similar to those of any sleep disorder. This can include:

  • Waking up with a dry mouth
  • Morning headaches
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Excessive sleepiness
  • Irritability or trouble paying attention while awake

People who are overweight are especially at risk because fat deposits around the upper airway can cause obstructed breathing. Similarly, people with thicker necks, narrow air pathways, enlarged tonsils, or adenoids may also be at risk. Researchers have found that even a 10% increase in body weight increases the risk of sleep apnea. While 60 to 90% of people with sleep apnea also have obesity, only around 30% of people diagnosed with obesity have sleep apnea.

Men are also more likely to have sleep apnea than women, and it occurs significantly more often in older adults. Family history is also a risk of sleep apnea.

What Should You Do?

Get evaluated by your primary care doctor. They may also refer you to a sleep specialist to conduct testing, such as overnight monitoring of your breathing, to diagnose your condition and determine its severity.

Using a test called polysomnography, your doctor can monitor your heart, lung, brain activity, and other movements while you sleep. This study helps rule out other sleep disorders such as restless legs syndrome or narcolepsy.

How To Treat Sleep Apnea

For moderate to severe cases, your doctor may recommend devices or treatments, or even surgery, to help open the airway.

The most common device is called a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. It delivers constant air pressure through a mask into the nose or mouth, or a mouthpiece that is designed to keep a person’s throat open during sleep.

If you have a mild case of sleep apnea and you’re struggling to get a good night’s sleep, your doctor may suggest lifestyle changes, such as:

  • Exercise
  • Eating a balanced, nutritious diet.
  • Limit alcohol consumption, especially before sleep.
  • Avoid caffeine before bed.
  • Develop a pre-bedtime routine such as drinking herbal tea, taking a warm bath/shower, and limiting blue light exposure (which are normal on TV/computer screens).

Get Sleep Apnea Treatment at Federici Dental

Think you are suffering from sleep apnea? Get checked out at Federici Dental! We provide comprehensive and expert treatment for those who are suffering from sleep apnea. We are able to diagnose patients and help them find relief so they can get a good night's sleep. Contact our Manahawkin, NJ office today! We are happy to answer any questions and concerns you have. We can’t wait to help you towards a healthier path.