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Your Healthy Family: Sleep apnea and heart health - KOAA.com | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

Your Healthy Family: Sleep apnea and heart health

If sleep apnea goes untreated, it can have serious implications for your heart. If sleep apnea goes untreated, it can have serious implications for your heart.
COLORADO SPRINGS -

Snoring can make for a bad night's sleep for you, and your partner.  It can also be a signal that you may have sleep apnea.  If sleep apnea goes untreated, it can have serious implications for your heart.

Obstructive sleep apnea can cause a number of health issues like extreme fatigue, stroke and heart disease.  The connection between sleep apnea and heart disease is evolving rapidly.

Dr. Christina Cairnes with Colorado Springs Sleep Apnea and Snoring Solutions explains,  ”When you have apnic moment at night when your are sleeping it's basically like you are being suffocated.  Not like when you’re a little kid holding your breath at the pool.  It’s like more someone coming up and trying to kill you, as perceived by your body.  What happens is it stimulates your entire fight or flight response.  When your flight or fight response is being stimulated 14 times a night or more, the circulatory system responds by dilating the organs that keep you alive.”

Patients who suffer from an irregular heartbeat are three times as likely to suffer from sleep apnea.  People with untreated sleep apnea could also be at risk for high blood pressure or heart attack.

Dr. Cairnes says, ”Your heart rate increases, your repository rate increases and your blood pressure increases.  If that happens several time an hour, over 6 or 8 hours, over several weeks, months, or years that inflammation builds up in the cardiovascular system to create high blood pressure.  It makes your heart work harder, so when you have an apnic moment it's almost like your heart is beating as fast as it would be when you running a marathon or something like that.  If that's happening 20 times an hour which is moderate, or if it's happening 60 timers an hour which is severe, that wear and tear on the cardiovascular system really builds up over several months and years."

The trouble with figuring out if you have sleep apnea or not, is that it happens while you’re asleep.  Besides snoring, another clue of sleep apnea can be poor memory, or feeling tired after 8 hours of sleep.  


There are a couple of way to treat sleep apnea, but the first step should be your primary care doctor or a sleep doctor, to figure out if you are a candidate for a sleep study.  

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