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Snoring and Cardiovascular Disease

Snoring and Cardiovascular Disease

Snoring is one of those problems obvious to everyone that lives with the snorer but to the person with the snoring problem. For the millions of people with sleep related breathing problems, even those with mild to moderate forms of the common condition called sleep apnea, may experience chronic snoring, frequent early morning headaches, and daytime fatigue. Several new studies suggests that these people also are at increased risk for heart attacks, stroke, and other cardiovascular events, just like those with more severe sleep related breathing problems.

Over the past 20 years, a growing number of studies has linked snoring to heart disease and stroke, said Robert W. Clark of the RegionalSleepDisordersCenter at the Columbus (Ohio) CommunityHospital. Just over half the studies looking for such a connection have found one. “We found that women who regularly snored and those who occasionally snored were 33% and 20% respectively more at risk of cardiovascular disease when compared to women who did not snore,” said Meir Stampfer, MD, DrPH of BWH. People suffering from coronary artery disease when blood oxygen is lowered by sleep-breathing disorders such as sleep apnea may be at greater risk of ventricular arrhythmias and sudden death.

A new study that followed 71,779 women for 8 years as part of the nationwide Nurses’ Health Study suggests that snoring itself might be a risk factor for sleep-breathing problems including apnea; it may cause hypertension and coronary artery disease. Women who reported snoring regularly were more likely to sleep on their back, smoke cigarettes and use alcohol. They were slightly older, heavier, and less physically active and had a higher prevalence of hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol at baseline. Snoring doesn’t mean that a woman is going to get cardiovascular disease but it is a marker of higher risk,” said researcher Dr. Meir J. Stampfer of Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “If a woman snores, she and her physician should be more aggressive about reducing her other risk factors.”

Millions of people are believed to suffer from sleep apnea. Many more may have less severe breathing problems that go unrecognized and undiagnosed. The sleep disturbances are most common in men and in those who are overweight, but they can occur in anyone at any age. Long-term studies are important in proving that snoring is in fact a risk factor for hypertension and heart disease, says Regina P. Walker of the LoyolaUniversityMedicalCenter in Maywood, Ill. There are lifestyle changes and treatments that can make a difference,

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Tags: Sleeping disorders, Snoring

Filed under: Sleeping Disorders