The Link Between Sleep and Heart Health
Sleep apnea is a completely treatable condition but also a very serious one yet millions of people go diagnosed and untreated. The link between sleep and heart health is scientific and should not be ignored.
Sleep medicine professionals have found sleep disorders and deprivation to be linked to life threatening conditions such as heart disease. Sleep apnea can fall into two categories: obstructive or central sleep apnea. While a patient is sleeping, sleep apnea causes breathing to start and stop. Central sleep apnea involves the brain not sending the right signals to the muscles that control your breathing and is less common in general, but is found in 30-40% of heart failure patients.
Obstructive sleep apnea is caused by the collapse of the muscles of the surrounding upper airway during sleep. This can lead to interrupted sleep, a drop in oxygen levels in the body from reduced airflow that triggers surges of adrenaline, and increases general inflammation in the body overall and affecting the cardiovascular system and heart.
Individuals with sleep apnea are at higher risk of high blood pressure, stroke, pulmonary hypertension, glucose intolerance, diabetes, congestive heart failure, heart attack and sudden cardiac death.
Below are some symptoms you should note and speak to your physician with if you suspect sleep apnea.
- Excessive daytime sleepiness (falling asleep driving, falling asleep on the job, feeling like you have not slept all night upon awakening in the am, inability to carry on daily activities due to fatigue)
- Snoring and witnessed apneas (waking up from a snort) are highly sensitive to sleep apnea
- Snoring – usually noted by the bed partner
- Witness apnea or strange breathing noises at night
- Waking up gasping for breath
- Frequent limb movements throughout the night
- Frequent morning headaches
- Lack of concentration
Symptoms for women can be different
- Not always the classic symptoms of snoring, daytime sleepiness
- Insomnia, headache, fatigue, depression, anxiety
- Sleep disruption is a common complaint during menopause due to night sweats, fragmented sleep, insomnia and restless legs.
- As women age and enter menopause, there may be weight gain which can lead to the development of sleep apnea
- Hot flashes are a common complaint during menopause but are also associated with sleep apnea
- A study from the Mayo Clinic noted that women with severe hot flashes have a 1.87x higher risk for sleep apnea than those with mild to moderate hot flashes.
- Should consider a sleep study in women with severe problems with sleep or hot flashes in menopause
Call SleepAlliance today for a sleep consultation.