The connection between sleep apnea and heart disease is evolving very rapidly. People with cardiovascular problems such as high blood pressure, heart failure, and stroke have a high prevalence of sleep apnea. Whether sleep apnea actually causes heart disease is still unclear, but we do know that if you have sleep apnea today, the chance that you will develop hypertension in the future increases significantly.
There are links between sleep apnea and heart disease. When oxygen diminishes in the blood, the levels of carbon dioxide are raised. The increased levels of carbon dioxide signal the brain, telling it to increase the heart rate. The brain reacts by releasing the body's "fight or flight" hormone called epinephrine (adrenaline). The increased circulation of epinephrine increases heart rate and ultimately raises blood pressure.
One challenge in defining the relationship between sleep apnea and heart disease is that people with sleep apnea often have other disease conditions, too. If people treated with high blood pressure and sleep apnea, or those who have had heart failure and sleep apnea, significant improvement in the measures of blood pressure or heart failure. Sufficient evidence exists to show a cause-and-effect relationship between high blood pressure (a marker for potential heart trouble) and sleep apnea.
This scary list of adverse health outcomes demonstrates the significance of diagnosing sleep apnea in a timely manner, in order to initiate treatment t. This last comment is actually the point -- fortunately, sleep apnea is a treatable condition. And you might be surprised that there are different options for treatment. With the right guidance from qualified experts, successful treatment is readily attainable.
Sleep apnea side effects can be dangerous and even life threatening if they are left untreated. If you have sleep apnea it is important to find the right sleep apnea treatment that helps you. Over 18 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea and that number is growing. It is becoming a major problem because of the obesity rate growing. Over 50% of sleep apnea cases suffer from obesity. Once again, it is very important to find a treatment for sleep apnea that fits you.
Although treatment for OSA varies, the most common method used to counter the malady is a machine called a CPAP, which delivers Continuous Positive Airway Pressure while patients sleep. CPAP machines quietly deliver light air pressure to the breathing passages to keep them open during sleep. This allows a significantly higher level of oxygen to enrich the blood, often greatly lowers fatigue levels, and significantly lowers risk for heart related health issues. Although many patients expect discomfort or inconvenience from using a CPAP machine, most report experiencing enhanced relaxation and significantly improved restfulness and energy levels after using the machine for only a short time.
So what exactly do they do for surgery? Well, the most common surgical procedure for sleep apnea is called uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP). It basically means removing the uvula that hangs in the back of the throat, along with any excess tissue around the soft palate. At the same time, any residual adenoid or tonsil tissue will be resected, to increase the size of the airway to improve air flow. This type of surgery is quite painful due to the sensitive nerve fibers in that area, so recovery time is usually about 1 week after surgery. Your doctor will provide you with medications for pain during this time.
Although the risk of death due to sleep apnea is low, it increases in patients who are also living with heart disease. It is estimated that heart disease patients who also have sleep apnea have 20 times the risk of heart attacks than those without it. Sleep apnea is thought to have played a role in the death of Jerry Garcia, who died in his sleep and reportedly suffered from both sleep apnea and heart disease.