Treat Sleep Apnea To Protect Your Heart

Your snoring could limit how much longer you live — and not because you spouse might kill you if you don’t stop.

Snoring — and more specifically, loud and persistent snoring — is one of the most common symptoms of sleep apnea. This is a sleep disorder that has been linked a variety of health issues. These include cardiovascular problems, high blood pressure, heart attacks, and strokes.

When you consider that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, you may understand why Lloyd F. Moss Jr., D.D.S., & Lloyd F. Moss III, D.D.S. and our team in Fredericksburg, VA, want to help you (and your spouse) if you are dealing with sleep apnea.

Types Of Sleep Apnea

Experts recognize three kinds of sleep apnea. The common thread between them is that people with these conditions have difficulty breathing when they are asleep.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is the most common kind. People with OSA cannot breathe due to physical reasons. If you have OSA, the muscles around your airways relax when you fall asleep.

This allows the soft tissue around your airways to partially or completely block your ability to breathe.

People with Central Sleep Apnea have trouble breathing for a different reason. When they fall asleep, their brains don’t send the right signals to the muscles that control respiration.

The third form of sleep apnea is Complex Sleep Apnea. People with this condition have a mix of OSA and Central Sleep Apnea.

Regardless of the types of sleep apnea that you have, one of the ways your body copes with this condition is by waking you up repeatedly throughout the night. Most of the time, these incidents are so brief that you don’t remember them.

To put this in perspective, you may stop breathing for up to 30 seconds at a time. Someone with mild sleep apnea may stop breathing up to 14 times per hour while someone with severe sleep apnea could stop breathing 30 or more times each hour he or she is asleep.

How This Affects Your Health

Several studies have been done to demonstrate the effect of sleep apnea on overall health.

Today, we want to discuss one that was conducted by a group of researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Their results were published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

The researchers started with a group of 1,645 middle-aged participants who showed no signs of heart disease. The researched kept track of the participants for decades, and in that time, 222 patients died, 212 patients developed coronary heart disease, and 122 experienced heart failure.

The researchers noticed that participants with OSA showed a greater increase in high sensitivity troponin T levels than people who did not have sleep apnea. Likewise, they participants with severe OSA had bigger increases in their high sensitivity troponin T levels than people with mild OSA.

Higher levels of high sensitivity troponin T are one way to identify individuals who may be more at risk for heart attacks.

OSA And Heart Disease

When you have trouble breathing, you may not get as much oxygen as you need. This affects your heart.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea also can affect your hormone levels. This can increase your risk of having high blood pressure.

And that is another risk factor for heart disease.

Treating OSA

If you suspect that you may have sleep apnea, you need to complete a sleep study to confirm it. Once it has been confirmed, you may be prescribed a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine.

The CPAP pushes air into your airway. This helps to keep the airway open so you can continue breathing. This means you will snore less and wake up less frequently … as long as you use the CPAP.

Some people find the CPAP mask irritating. Some people have trouble falling asleep while wearing the mask, and other people take the mask off on their sleep without realizing it until the morning.

An alternative solution may be to wear an oral appliance instead. At our office, we may be able to create one of two kinds of oral appliance for you.

The first is a mandibular advancement device. This changes the position of your jaw in a way that helps to keep your airways open.

The second is a tongue retaining device. This holds your tongue in a position to keep your airways open.

If you would like to know more about either of these devices, make an appointment with Lloyd F. Moss Jr., D.D.S., & Lloyd F. Moss III, D.D.S. You can schedule a visit by calling (540) 369-4926 or filling out our online form. Our dentist office is located in Fredericksburg, VA.