Sleep Apnea and Heart Health – What’s the Deal?

Sleep Apnea and Heart Health – What’s the Deal?

We’re always being told to watch our heart health, and on top of that, we’re always being given a ton of directives. Eat right, exercise, don’t drink too much coffee, all sorts of things that impact our lives, but did you know that sleep apnea can actually affect your heart health if you let it progress too far? This is why an oximetry test is so critical, but before we get into that, let’s answer this important question: what is it that makes sleep apnea such a threat to your heart health?

Why You Need an Oximetry Test for your Sleep Apnea Now

Here’s a fact: sleep apnea makes for a really bad night’s sleep, for everyone. First of all, your partner is going to have a bad night, and second, even though you probably won’t remember it, you’re going to have a bad night. You might simply feel tired the next day, or you might wake up with a dull headache, both of which are side effects. What many people do not realize, however, is that sleep apnea can lead to the following conditions:

  • Fatigue
  • Heart Disease
  • Stroke

To understand why you’re at risk for heart disease, you have to understand exactly what happens when you experience obstructive sleep apnea. When your airway is obstructed, you’re essentially holding your breath, but it’s not a voluntary effort or motion on your part. Say, for example, you’re swimming in a lake or a pool, and you decide to submerge yourself and see how long you can hold your breath. This is a voluntary method of holding your breath, but now consider this: you’re underwater and you’re drowning; what happens? Essentially, your body’s flight or fight response is activated.

This is precisely what happens when you experience the condition known as ‘obstructive sleep apnea’. Now, you know that all of that activity gets your heart pumping, but imagine having your fight or flight response activated up to fourteen times per night. This is only on the light side, however, as people who suffer from the more severe cases will have this response activated up to forty times per night, and some go as high as one hundred. Those who suffer from untreated sleep apnea could be at right for higher blood pressure, and they may even suffer a heart attack.

More about Sleep Apnea

When your fight or flight response is activated several times over the course of six to eight hours, your blood pressure rises, and inflammation courses through your cardiovascular system. It’s very similar to a panic attack, and your heart will be beating as fast as it might if you were running an ironman competition. If you’re out of shape, that might definitely create some problems. The wear and tear on the cardiovascular system cannot be ignored, and it could eventually lead to death. That being said, this is definitely not a condition that you want to leave untreated.

As we’ve said before, in previous blogs, part of the problem with figuring out whether or not you have sleep apnea is that you’re asleep when it happens. Most of the time you either suspect it because you’re suffering from the symptoms, or because your significant other tells you that you have been snoring.

Either way, a nocturnal oximetry test is an outstanding way to confirm or overturn your suspicions. It will monitor your oxygen and determine whether or not you’re getting enough during your eight hours of REM sleep. There are several other tests that can be administered, such as heart monitoring that can help to determine the activity during the night.

There is nothing more important than making sure your heart remains healthy and sleep apnea is one condition that can tear it up, putting literal years on your system before you know it. Speak to your doctor if you suspect that you are suffering from sleep apnea, and make sure that it is taken care of before it causes some serious damage to your cardiovascular system.


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