Sleep apnea and your heart.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) appears to be connected to the development of heart and vascular disease, as documented by a 2008 publication of the American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association. Almost 40% of patients with OSA have high blood pressure.
Furthermore, it appears that patients with OSA may have up to a 2 to 3 times increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Lastly, Mayo Clinic research shows Americans who have OSA are more likely to die suddenly of cardiac causes between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. than during the other 16 hours of the day combined.
Other health issues related to sleep apnea?
Untreated OSA may also lead to hypertension, coronary artery disease, memory impairment, stroke, and adult onset diabetes. In terms of lifestyle issues, studies have found a connection between the presence of OSA and erectile dysfunction in men. In one study, snoring was found to be associated with increased blood glucose markers. This is a potential sign of impending diabetes.
What is CPAP? How does it work?
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) has long been considered a standard treatment option for patients with OSA for decades. This is because medical doctors get limited sleep medicine and most only know CPAP as a treatment option. With CPAP, patients sleep with a mask that rams air down the airway preventing obstruction. While the treatment can be effective when utilized properly it is, unfortunately, often felt to be very cumbersome – both for the patient and his/her bed partner. Furthermore, there are many problems associated with wearing a CPAP: machine noise, excess gas in stomach, dryness of mouth/noise/throat, and claustrophobia.
Oral appliances for snoring and sleep apnea?
In some cases of snoring and OSA an oral appliance can be used for treatment. An oral appliance is an device similar in appearance to a mouth-guard. The device is worn at night during sleep. The oral appliance moves the lower jaw (mandible) forward and downward. This movement opens up the airway preventing collapse.
Weight and my snoring/sleep apnea?
It is well known that weight gain and obesity can contribute to snoring and OSA. One study found two-thirds of 1,000 OSA patients to be clinically obese (weight greater than 120% of ideal). It has been demonstrated that increased weight and body mass will lead to alterations in upper airway structure and function which predispose to OSA and snoring. Obesity can worsen OSA because of fat deposition at specific sites. Fat deposition in the tissues surrounding the upper airway seem to restrict the diameter of the trachea. Furthermore, fat deposits around the thorax (truncal obesity) reduce chest compliance and functional lung residual capacity, and can increase oxygen demand.
Will weight loss improve my snoring and/or sleep apnea?
A lot of research supports the concept that signs and symptoms of OSA and snoring can be improved with weight loss. In patients who are morbidly obese, surgical intervention (bariatric surgery) may be utilized to help patients with OSA lose weight. It is apparent that a patient’s obesity level can play a significant role in his/her snoring and OSA. Therefore, it is imperative that patients with OSA and snoring scrutinize the status of their nutrition and fitness with an eye towards healthy, balanced life-style.
Alcohol and sleep apnea?
Drinking alcohol lowers muscle tone. Therefore, the tongue and soft tissue of the neck is more prone to relax and occlude the airway. The increased rate of sleep apnea in patients who drink has been well known. Changing drinking habits and patterns, including decreased nocturnal alcohol consumption can have a positive impact on patients’ sleep.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea is a major health epidemic. If you or a loved one suspects that you have sleep apnea, let us show you how our dentists can help with sleep apnea. Call our office today at 832-487-0647. Our office serves Pasadena and Deer Park Texas.