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Could Your Sleep Apnea be Causing You Heart Problems?

Every day, millions of people could be putting their lives at risk from sleep apnea related heart illnesses without even realizing it.  Sleep is supposed to be a happy time, during which you can try to forget all the worries and troubles that life presents.

For many people, sleeping the medically recommended 7 to 8 hours a night leaves them feeling refreshed and ready to take on a new day. Sleeping is a time when your mind can process the events of that day and logically rearrange your thought process to reduce stress levels

However, for an increasingly large number of adults, going to sleep at night seems to be where their problems begin. For people who suffer from any type of sleep apnea, mild to chronic, sleeping can be a time of great stress and turmoil. If a person wakes up 5 times or less in one hour, they are considered to be a normal sleeper and not suffering from any form of apnea.  If you wake up between 6 and up to 30 times an hour you could be suffering from any of the three types of sleep apnea. 

There are three types of sleep apnea disorder: central, obstructive and mixed. All of these disorders can cause the sufferer breathing difficulties by different means. Central sleep apnea occurs when the correct signals are not produced in the brain to keep the body breathing while you sleep. 

Obstructive sleep apnea is where the muscles in the throat collapse or close over, presenting an obstruction in the airflow between the airway and the lungs. 

sleep apnea heartMixed apnea is a combination of both apneas  and usually starts off with central, then moves on to obstructive. All types have the potential to be detrimental to your health if they are not diagnosed and treated effectively. 

If you are suffering from sleep apnea, your heart can be put under massive pressure during the night as it is continuously working hard to correct your breathing. When breathing stops for even a short period of time, this can cause low levels of blood oxygen or low oxygen saturation. 


Low blood oxygen can result in your heart having to work overtime to try and supply all your organs with enough oxygen to survive. Studies suggest that low oxygen saturation levels can cause hypertension in sleep apnea sufferers. 


Although nearly all the organs in the human body have a vital part to play in keeping us alive, the heart is the most instrumental to overall survival. The heart pumps oxygenated and nutrient filled blood around our entire body, supplying the organs and muscles with the key elements needed to survive. In certain circumstances people can stay alive if their other organs are not functioning fully, but if your heart is not providing its main functions then death from sleep apnea is a real possibility if your condition is left untreated.  

Sleep apnea and heart related conditions have strong medical links. Any medical condition can usually be caused by many factors but some of the key ones that can affect the heart negatively are relatively easy to explain. 

sleep apnea heartHeart specialists suggest that these factors below are some of the main contributors to heart conditions:

  • Stress
  • High blood pressure
  • Poor diet
  • Smoking
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Obesity
  • Lack of regular exercise
 The problem with nearly all of these factors is that they can be part of a vicious circle and are medically linked with the effects of suffering from sleep apnea. 

If you do suffer from sleep apnea, you will go to bed at night as normal but wake up in the morning not feeling refreshed. It will almost feel like you haven't had any sleep at all, and you might feel tired, grumpy, angry and irritable. These types of feelings can increase not only your stress levels but also your blood pressure level. 

Sleep Apnea and High Blood Pressure

A person who is overly tired will feel the need to eat or drink something to keep them awake and alert. The energy provided by this food or drink will help make the rest of the day seem more manageable, even if it is fake energy obtained by a stimulant. 

Most people associate caffeine drinks, such as coffee, sugary sodas or energy drinks with having the ability to keep them awake longer and help them focus. 

These drinks are high on the list of products that contribute to a poor diet and can cause high blood pressure, which is a main factor in heart disease.

The nicotine contained in cigarettes has been found to produce feelings in the brain of stimulation or euphoria. When you are tired or stressed, due to lack of sleep caused by sleep apnea, smoking a cigarette may appear to be a quick fix way to help combat tiredness or stress. 

This is only masking the original problem and you could be putting yourself at further risk. Smoking not only reduces HDL, your good cholesterol, but can increase levels of LDL (the bad cholesterol). This can damage and clog arteries which may be increasing your risk of suffering life threatening heart diseases.

Tiredness or lack of energy due to your sleep apnea condition can cause you to become lethargic. You may lose interest in diet and exercise, which are the two main causes of obesity. 

sleep apnea heart2010Obesity can be contributed to causing a range of problems like hypertension, diabetes and atherosclerosis, and these are all associated with causing heart problems. There is a direct link between obesity and sleep apnea.

To conclude, sleep apnea  and heart problems can be closely related to each other. This could be as a direct result of a lack of oxygen in the blood caused by the inability to breathe correctly. Being stressed out due to a lack of sleep may also put pressure on the heart. 

Sleep study results show that a lack of proper sleep caused by sleep apnea can have consequences on a person's ability to lead a fully functional life. Basic everyday tasks like working, driving or caring for families can become dangerous due to falling asleep at the wheel of  your car, nodding off at work or dozing while looking after family members.

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