When we are asleep, our bodies relax and unwind, and we enter a state of rest. Unfortunately, for some of us, sleep can become the cause of life-threatening risks like heart attacks, especially if a sleep disorder like sleep apnea goes untreated. In fact, sleep apnea and heart attacks demonstrate a dangerous connection, which must be taken seriously. In this blog post, we will discuss the relationship between sleep apnea and heart attacks, the symptoms, and the warning signs of each condition.
Connection Between Sleep Apnea And Heart Attacks
Sleep apnea happens when breathing literally stops and starts repeatedly while sleeping. A person with sleep apnea does not have enough air reaching their lungs and oxygen levels become dangerously low, which can result in various complications, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke. This is because the brain and other organs do not get enough oxygen and it leads to a build-up of carbon dioxide in the blood. This plays a major role in worsening heart health. Moreover, sleep apnea disrupts the normal sleep cycle, and people with this condition often suffer from fatigue and exhaustion during the day.
The link between sleep apnea and heart attacks is not immediate. It’s a long-term effect that develops over time. When oxygen levels drop, the body overcompensates and releases acidic compounds, which makes the heart work harder. This can lead to high blood pressure and has been found to alter blood sugar levels as well. Additionally, sleep apnea can increase inflammation, which is a well-known risk factor for heart disease. Inflammation is the body’s immune response to injury or infection, and when it becomes chronic, it may damage the arteries and trigger heart attacks.
Symptoms of sleep apnea include snoring, gasping, and choking sounds during sleep, which can wake a person up. Others may experience night sweats, dry mouth, insomnia, and headaches. Due to the potential of irregular breathing patterns, it is no surprise that those with sleep apnea may wake up feeling tired and continue to feel exhausted throughout the day, which can be a red flag that the body is not receiving enough oxygen.
Sleep apnea and heart attacks have a close association that cannot be overlooked. People with sleep apnea should communicate and address this issue with their healthcare professionals. The use of a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine has been found to be an effective treatment method for sleep apnea. CPAP provides increased airflow to reduce carbon dioxide build-up and prevent oxygen levels from falling. Treatments for heart disease are varied and depend on the type of condition, but in general, lifestyle changes are the first recommendation, including adhering to a healthy diet, incorporating regular exercise for thirty minutes a day, and quitting smoking and limiting alcohol consumption. In conclusion, sleep apnea and heart attacks can potentially be fatal if left untreated. Being proactive about your health and seeking medical attention is the most effective way to manage both conditions and improve your overall quality of life.