Obstructive Sleep Apnea: A Heart and Brain Problem

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is the most common form of sleep apnea and is caused by the obstruction of the upper airway. OSA is known for affecting sleep and causing excessive tiredness during the day. However, OSA is also the cause for many heart problems. “‘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., chair and professor of epidemiology at the School of Public Health at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the incoming president of the American Heart Association.” [1]

OSA is known to increase your blood pressure. When you stop breathing, blood oxygen levels drop quickly. This can cause your blood pressure to increase and put a strain on the cardiovascular system. High blood pressure or hypertension is very common in people with OSA. “Of people with hypertension, about 30% have obstructive sleep apnea. If you have obstructive sleep apnea, there is a 50% chance you also have hypertension.” [2] Strokes are also another medical issue that come along with OSA. “Results of the 20-year follow-up study show that people with moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea were…nearly four times more likely to have a stroke…”[3]The stroke mentioned here is an ischemic stroke. An ischemic stroke happens when blood flow is cut off to the brain and brain cells die. “Moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) has been shown to increase the risk of ischemic stroke, by as much as three times in men.”[4]

OSA is not just a sleeping disorder. It affects your heart and brain as well. It is recommended to seek treatment for OSA quickly so as to decrease any cardiovascular problems a patient may have now or in the future.

 

Treatment of OSA most commonly includes the use of (a) Dental Sleep Apnea Appliance and (b) Continuous Positive Air Pressure (CPAP). The Dental Sleep Apnea appliance (aka. Snoring appliance) is used to help hold the jaw forward which holds the tongue forward and allows the airway to open up.

 

1. Sleep Apnea and Heart Disease, Stroke.

 

2.Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Heart Disease.

 

3. Study links severe sleep apnea to increased risk of stroke, cancer and death.

4. Obstructive sleep apnea and cardioembolic stroke risk.

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