Snoring every night can be frustrating, especially for someone who has to listen to it. The issue may be serious to your health when the snorer stops breathing for brief periods of time, since it may lead to cardiovascular problems.
The condition is called sleep apnea and occurs when a person briefly stops breathing from 5 to 30 times per hour or more while sleeping. Sleep apnea may interrupt sleep and cause the sleeper to wake up to gasp for air. The inability to sleep restfully often is associated with high blood pressure, arrhythmia, stroke and heart failure.
Heart disease and stroke are the leading causes of death and disability in the United States. High blood pressure is a major risk factor that leads to heart disease and stroke. “The evidence is very strong for the relationship between sleep apnea and hypertension and cardiovascular disease generally, so people really need to know that,” said Donna Arnett, Ph.D., Dean of the College of Public Health at the University of Kentucky, and past president of the American Heart Association.
Sleep Apnea – A Common Health Problem
One in five adults has at least a mild form of sleep apnea, with more men than women experiencing this common problem. The most common type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and is often associated with obesity. OSA is caused when the upper airway closes off because the muscles that hold it open lose their tone. Each time the airway closes, there is a disruption in breathing.
Central sleep apnea (CSA) is less prevalent and results when the brain doesn’t send regular signals to the diaphragm to contract and expand.
Listen to Snoring Complaints from Others
When a partner notices that you are snoring and gasping for air, it may be time to seek medical help. If you live alone it may be hard to detect that you are struggling with sleep apnea. You may notice that you are more tired during the day without a restful night’s sleep. Seeking medical advice and a sleep study may be the next step to determine if you have sleep apnea.
Treatment for Sleep Apnea
In a sleep study, the number of pauses in breathing is counted to determine mild to severe sleep apnea (five to 15 incidents per hour for mild sleep apnea; 15 to 30 per hour for moderate sleep apnea; and more than 30 per hour for severe sleep apnea). If it is determined that you have sleep apnea, your medical professional may recommend treatment with a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device to wear while you are sleeping. The CPAP keeps the air pressure in the breathing passages open to alleviate sleep apnea.
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