So, as many as 75 million people have a condition that many of know little about. Sleep apnea is a condition that intrudes into daily living by causing snoring, daytime sleepiness, headache, and poor concentration, but it also can lead to potentially deadly cardiac issues.
Let’s take a look at some of the heart problems that studies have shown sleep apnea can cause:
- Atrial fibrillation. Traditional treatment for the irregular heart rhythm called atrial fibrillation consists of blood thinners, medications, and an invasive, expensive procedure called ablation. There may be a more natural approach. Atrial fibrillation has been cured in people who are overweight and have sleep apnea. The treatment consists of weight loss, and sometimes using a device called CPAP to improve oxygen levels during sleep. According to the Sleep Heart Health Study, the likelihood of developing afib if you have untreated sleep apnea increases fivefold, and treatment improves the likelihood that your rhythm will stay regular into the future.
- Hypertension. There is no doubt that undiagnosed and untreated obstructive sleep apnea can result in high blood pressure. In addition, apnea can make hypertension very difficult to treat with medication, and one-third of people with a condition called resistant hypertension have undiagnosed sleep apnea. Again, weight loss and using a CPAP mask as prescribed by a sleep specialist can make a huge difference
- Stroke. Obstructive sleep apnea (called OSA), has been shown to increase the risk of both stroke and premature dementia. An analysis published just this month in the journal PLOS One demonstrated that treating the condition with CPAP was associated with a lower incidence of stroke and cardiac events.
- Coronary artery disease. Not only does untreated OSA worsen atherosclerotic coronary disease (the blockages that cause heart attacks), it also messes with metabolism, worsening cholesterol and sugar levels. This can lead to fatal heart attacks. Reggie White, the Philadelphia Eagle great, died at age 43, most likely from OSA.
- Pulmonary hypertension. This condition, in which blood pressure in the lungs can be markedly elevated, is another cardiovascular disease with a well-established relationship to OSA. Sleep apnea is also associated with congestive heart failure, and inflammation that may have an impact on other non-cardiac problems such as Parkinson’s disease.
Read more here