How Sleep Apnea Increases Your Risk of Heart Disease


shutterstock_114414622-300x199Sleep apnea and heart disease have been shown to be strongly correlated, although it has not been conclusively determined whether one causes the other or not. Patients that experience complications relevant to the heart are also commonly sufferers of sleep apnea as well. Similarly, people who experience sleep apnea are much more likely to develop cardiovascular problems later on in the future.

How is Sleep Apnea Related to Blood Pressure?

One of the main reasons that sleep apnea commonly presents cardiovascular problems is because sleep apnea inherently raises a person’s blood pressure. Because sleep apnea causes the person to stop breathing, the lack to oxygen repetitively causes the blood vessels to constrict, in order to boost blood flow to the heart and the brain. Tighter blood vessels means the blood flows faster and, as a result, the blood pressure increases.

Unfortunately, this effect does not limit itself to the nighttime occurrences of sleep apnea. The messages that your brain sends to your body during the night when your body’s oxygen levels fall seem to carry over to the daytime, which is problematic. The occurrences of sleep apnea at night trigger different mechanisms during the day that result in an increased daytime blood pressure, even though breathing has resumed regular rates.

Does Treating Sleep Apnea Benefit Cardiovascular Health?

Treating sleep apnea with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) has been shown to lower blood pressure both during sleeping hours as well as during the day. Treating sleep apnea has also shown to improve recovery rates of many heart-related ailments.

The human body is highly interconnected, and it is important to assess the effects that different areas have on each other. If you would like to talk about your specific situation with one of our doctors, please contact Austin Oral Surgery today, and we will be more than happy to help you.