Sleep Apnea and Heart Attack
Sleep Apnea exposes the heart and circulation to harmful stimuli that may cause or contribute to the development of most cardiovascular diseases.
When you stop breathing, your oxygen level drops. The body responds by releasing epinephrine (also called adrenaline), a stress hormone. When this happens over and over, adrenaline levels remain high. This can lead to high blood pressure.
Patients with obstructive sleep apnea are also more likely to have coronary artery disease. Coronary artery disease (also known as the hardening of the arteries) happens when the small blood vessels that supply blood and oxygen to your heart become narrow. Narrowed coronary arteries can lead to heart attacks.
If you have sleep apnea that is untreated, you are twice as likely to develop heart attacks in the future as those without the problem. Plus, up to 70% of patients admitted to the hospital because of coronary artery disease were found to have sleep apnea. If you have heart failure, obstructive sleep apnea can make it worse. Also, people with untreated obstructive sleep apnea can develop heart failure. The chance of having obstructive sleep apnea if you have heart failure is quite high.