12 Jan Sleep Apnea and Heart Problems
You eat well and exercise to take care of your heart, but don’t forget about sleep. Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly starts and stops throughout the night. While not breathing in and of itself is dangerous, sleep apnea is often coupled with many other health problems including cardiovascular problems.
While doctors are still unsure whether sleep apnea causes heart problems, the connection between sleep apnea and cardiovascular problems such as heart disease are still evolving. However, there is no doubt that those diagnosed with high blood pressure, stroke, and heart disease have a high prevalence of sleep apnea.
We also know that if you have sleep apnea today, your chances of developing high blood pressure in the future significantly increases. While researchers are not yet sure, good evidence suggests a cause and effect relationship between sleep apnea and high blood pressure. When you stop breathing, the oxygen levels in your body fall. This excites receptors that signal your brain that something is wrong. In response, the brain sends signals through the nervous system telling the blood vessels to constrict. This ensures the brain and the heart get most of the available oxygen. Unfortunately, this construction tends to linger even in the daytime when you are awake. If your blood vessels are constantly constricted, the result is high blood pressure.
Available evidence does offer us some hope, though. It suggests people who have their sleep apnea treated do see their blood pressure lower both at night and during the day. It has also been found that if people with sleep apnea and irregular heartbeats are treated for sleep apnea, they only have a 40% chance of coming back for further treatment for their irregular heartbeat. In short, if heart patients with sleep apnea are properly treated for sleep apnea, it’s possible their heart problems will improve as well.
The most common treatment for sleep apnea the CPAP. A CPAP is a mask connected to a pump which provides the wearer with a flow of air into the nasal passage that keeps the airway open. Keeping the airway open prevents the starting and stopping of breath. Unfortunately, the CPAP is also very bulky and can be uncomfortable to sleep in.
At Renew Dental, we offer an alternative to the cumbersome CPAP. If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, we may be able to fit you with a dental appliance similar to an orthodontic retainer designed to help you breathe better at night. If you’re interested in learning more about how we can help you conquer your sleep apnea, give us a call at 662-823-7900.