February 22, 2019
February is actually Heart Disease Awareness Month, so one sobering statistic you’ll probably see either on TV or online is that heart disease is the #1 cause of death in the United States. Most have heard this before, but a relatively new development in science is that sleep apnea may be a big contributing factor. The American Sleep Apnea Association estimates that about 35,000 cardiovascular-related deaths each year are directly connected to sleep apnea, and that number is only expected to go up as rates of sleep apnea increase. If you think you have or have already been diagnosed with sleep apnea in Boca Raton, getting it treated will not only help you sleep better, but it could literally save your life. How are these two conditions connected, and better yet, what steps can you take to keep yourself safe?
Sleep Apnea & Heart Disease
When someone has sleep apnea, their breathing is frequently cut off during the night for short periods of time, preventing them from getting the quality rest they need to feel energized the next day. The most prominent symptoms are snoring and daytime fatigue, but a less obvious one can potentially be deadly: hypertension.
When breathing is cut off, the body panics as oxygen in the blood starts to decrease, so the heart begins to work extra hard to move the limited oxygenated blood throughout the body. This leads to a spike in blood pressure, and this increase can remain even after normal breathing has been restored and a person is awake. Hypertension is what the medical community calls “the silent killer” because it is a leading risk factor for heart attack and stroke.
How to Protect Yourself
If you find yourself constantly feeling tired throughout the day despite how much you sleep, you should definitely talk to your doctor about sleep apnea treatment. They will likely have you take a sleep test in order to determine whether or not you have the condition. If you do, sleep apnea is very treatable, with the most common approaches being CPAP therapy and oral appliance therapy. Once sleep apnea is under control, not only will someone feel better in the morning, but their heart will be much less stressed as well, lowering their chances of suffering a potentially fatal cardiac event.
Tips You Can Use Tonight
In addition to consulting your doctor, there are a few other things you can do to improve your sleep and reduce the symptoms of sleep apnea (including the associated risks to your heart):
- Avoid using caffeine, tobacco, or alcohol right before bed, as these can make it easier for the airway to become blocked during the night.
- Make sure that your bedroom is a dark, quiet, and cool place so that it is ideal for sleep.
- Develop a relaxing pre-bedtime routine and stick to it.
- Try to maintain a consistent sleep schedule, even on the weekends.
Needless to say, heart disease is serious business, and anything you can do to lower your risk is always a good idea, especially if it means getting treatment for another serious health condition! If you have the slightest hint that you might have sleep apnea, don’t hesitate to contact your doctor right away.
About the Author
Dr. Kenneth Mogell is a Diplomate of the American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine and has been providing sleep apnea and snoring treatment in Boca Raton for more than 30 years. If you think you or a loved one might have sleep apnea, he’s ready to help, and you can contact him for more information through his website.
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