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How Untreated Sleep Apnea Affects Your Cardiovascular Health

How Untreated Sleep Apnea Affects Your Cardiovascular Health

It’s common knowledge that smoking tobacco, eating fried foods, and not getting enough exercise are bad for your heart. But did you know sleep or lack of it, also affects heart health?

About 40 to 80% of people with cardiovascular disease also have sleep apnea, a sleep disorder that keeps you from getting enough high-quality sleep.  

Our team at Bucktown Wicker Park Dental in Chicago, Illinois, discusses how untreated sleep apnea affects your cardiovascular health. 

Understanding sleep apnea

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that causes pauses in breathing during sleep. People with sleep apnea stop and restart breathing over and over again while they slumber. 

The disruptions in breathing affect the intake and delivery of oxygen to the body. It also makes it impossible to get good-quality sleep. 

Most people with sleep apnea are unaware of their breathing problems, but they wake up feeling exhausted. Usually, their sleep partner notices the signs and symptoms first. 

Loud snoring is one of the tell-tale signs of sleep apnea, which can make it hard for your sleep partner to rest. They may also notice breathing disruptions in sleep.  

The breathing problems most often occur when the structures in the throat relax, obstructing the inflow of air (obstructive sleep apnea). In other cases, sleep apnea occurs because the brain fails to send signals to the muscles that control breathing (central sleep apnea). 

Sleep apnea and cardiovascular health

Lack of quality sleep affects your physical and emotional well-being. Sleep is essential for health and function, repairing damage from the day and getting your body ready for the next. Without enough sleep, your body never fully recovers or prepares.

You may not realize it, but you wake up during those disruptions in breathing with sleep apnea, which makes it impossible to get a good night’s sleep. Sleep apnea also affects blood oxygen levels. 

Lack of sleep and low blood oxygen affect the health and function of your cardiovascular system. If you have sleep apnea, you’re at greater risk of having high blood pressure, an abnormal heartbeat (arrhythmia), heart failure, and stroke. 

Researchers are still trying to understand the connection between sleep apnea and cardiovascular disease but theorize it has something to do with low oxygen intake. Lack of oxygen may cause damage to the heart and blood vessels, affecting function.

Additionally, when blood oxygen levels drop, your heart beats faster, and your blood pressure rises, stressing the cardiovascular system.

Improving sleep and cardiovascular health

Sleep apnea is a condition that significantly affects your overall health when left untreated. Improving your sleep is the best way to improve your health.

Before making any treatment recommendations, we do sleep testing to understand the cause of your sleep problem. Thanks to advances in medical technology, you can do home sleep testing for sleep apnea, but we may have you come in for a formal sleep study at the lab if we need more information.

Treatment for sleep apnea depends on the severity of your condition. First, we recommend lifestyle changes like maintaining a healthy weight, smoking cessation, and regular exercise.

Medical treatment for obstructive sleep apnea may include continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy or a dental sleep appliance to keep the airway open. 

Treatment for your sleep apnea is critical for your health and may lower your risk of cardiovascular health problems. 

Do you snore loudly when you sleep? Are you waking up exhausted? Don’t ignore your symptoms. Call our office today or use the online booking feature to make a sleep apnea appointment with our sleep expert. 

You will feel better when you sleep better, we promise.

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