The Connection Between Sleep Apnea and Heart Disease

We treat sleep apnea so that our patients can enjoy a restful nights sleep and the health benefits that are associated with one. This makes a report published by the American Thoracic Society rather interesting. Titled, “Sleep Mini Series #4 Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Heart Disease” the society discusses the importance of sleep on heart health and how obstructive sleep apnea can increase the risk for heart disease. If you thought that your snoring or difficulty breathing was only impacting your partner – think again. This report is further proof that how well you sleep can impact the health of your entire body.

Rather than discussing things that are common knowledge, such as a lack of sleep breaking down your immune system, it is interesting to explore the information provided by the American Thoracic Society. In their report, they cite a statistic that those living with obstructive sleep apnea are 50 percent more likely to also have high blood pressure. Given the amount of people that are on daily medication to control blood pressure, it should be mentioned that if you have this condition you should be checked to see if you have sleep apnea. Additionally, and more alarmingly, 70 percent of those treated for coronary artery disease in the hospital, have some form of obstructive sleep apnea.

Heart disease is no laughing matter, given that 2,000 people die a day from it. This is staggering considering that one out of every three U.S. adults dies from heart disease, for a total of 800,000 people per year. This makes heart disease the leading killer within the United States. As such, all forms of treatment need to be explored, including treating sleep apnea as a way to reduce the risk of heart attacks. While we cannot definitively say how many fewer heart attacks would occur, given the number of people that suffer from both, it is certainly worth treating the condition.

In our office, we treat sleep apnea and snoring on a daily basis and do so without the need for surgery or an invasive procedure. We start by testing you for sleep apnea and if it is proven that you have the condition, we will make an impression of your mouth so that a removable oral appliance can be created in the dental lab. This device is small, portable and looks like a full upper and lower retainer. You simply place it in your mouth at night and by doing so your jaw will be held in place. This is important because most people that suffer from obstructive sleep apnea do so because their jaw falls backwards while they sleep, and their tongue falls backwards with it. The tongue proceeds to block the airway so that a person spends the night desperately trying to breathe – creating snoring sounds in the process. While wearing a removable oral appliance is a simple solution it is also incredibly effective.

If you feel tired when you wake up in the morning or your spouse is complaining of snoring, visit our office to find out if you have sleep apnea. If you are at risk for heart disease, we recommend that you are tested as well.