How Sleep Apnea Affects Your Heart

By Jordan Thuilliez

Did you know that how you sleep could be impacting your heart?

If you have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), your body experiences apneic events where your tongue repeatedly collapses into the back of your throat, blocking your airway, not allowing you to breathe in the oxygen you need.

When your body experiences moments of repeated drops in oxygen (intermittent hypoxemia), it creates an systemic environment of silent inflammation. (No, this is not a creative way to call someone fat!) Simply put, your body internally becomes swollen. As your blood vessels repeatedly swell, it causes your blood pressure to increase. As your blood pressure increases over time, it puts stress on your blood vessels throughout your body and brain. Eventually, this could lead to life threatening conditions such as stroke (a blockage of blood flow a part of the brain) or a brain aneurysm (also known as a hemorrhagic stroke, where a blood vessel ruptures and bleeds into the brain).

The link between oxygen drops at night and not sleeping well are clearly linked to serious medical conditions like high blood pressure and stroke. Worst of all, sleep apnea can even lead to sudden cardiac death in your sleep.

When you are sleeping, sleep apnea puts your body through multiple moments of crisis every hour.

These crises can last for seconds to minutes at a time, and can occur dozens of times every hour. The unseen wear and tear on your body and specifically your heart, is hard to imagine. It is no surprise that sleep apnea is linked to most cardiac diseases.  

As the American Heart Association stated, “These episodes wake the sleeper as he or she gasps for air. It prevents restful sleep and is associated with high blood pressure, arrhythmia, stroke and heart failure.”

You have the power to not let sleep apnea impact your life.

If you are concerned that you or a loved one may have obstructive sleep apnea, you can order a home sleep test to be shipped directly to you. Take the test in the comfort of your own home and a board-certified sleep physician will review your results. Gain the peace of mind a good night’s sleep can offer!

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