Sleep Well, Protect Your Heart

heart in handsFebruary is American Heart Month, when more-than-usual attention is drawn to the brevity and prevalence of cardiovascular issues, and the lifestyle choices that affect your risks for heart disease. The many issues that influence your heart health include your diet and level of exercise, but also your quality of sleep, which might be drastically affected if you’re one of the millions of Americans who suffer from sleep apnea.

The Link Between OSA and Heart Disease

A study published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine suggests that sleep apnea severity can help predict your risk of coronary disease and heart failure in the future. The research team, from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, analyzed data from 1,645 middle aged and older participants in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study and the Sleep Heart Health Study. All patients underwent a polysomnograph to classify their level of sleep apnea and blood samples to determine their overall health. Over the course of 21 years, a total of 222 participants died, 212 experienced coronary heart disease, and 122 experienced heart failure.

How Does Sleep Apnea Threaten Your Health?

Whether or not sleep apnea directly causes heart disease and failure is unclear. What is known, however, is how sleep apnea produces affects that can force your cardiovascular and respiratory systems to work harder. Obstructive sleep apnea describes a condition where oral tissues block your airway when you sleep. A sleep apnea episode is marked by increasingly-loud snoring as your airway shrinks, then silence as it’s completely obstructed, until your mind panics enough to waken your body to start breathing again. In the interim, your blood pressure spikes as your mind tells your blood vessels to increase the flow of oxygen to the heart and brain. Episodes can occur hundreds of times a night, and the effects of oxygen deprivation and increased blood pressure can have long-lasting influences on your heart health.

About Your Livonia Dentist:

As a highly experienced sleep dentist, Dr. Stewart has helped many patients find the rest they deserve by treating the mechanisms behind OSA and snoring. James Steward, DDS, and our compassionate staff proudly serve patients of all ages from Livonia, Farmington Hills, Plymouth, Northville, Dearborn Heights, Garden City, and all surrounding communities. To schedule an appointment, call our office today at (734) 425-4400.