We’ve discussed heart health and sleep apnea before, but it bears repeating, especially during the pandemic. This is because heart problems can lead to worse COVID-19 health outcomes. 

Snoring can keep you and your partner awake at night. It can also ruin your sleep cycle and your daily rhythm. In fact, it can also harm your relationships. However, it may also be more than just an annoyance–it can bring about life-threatening consequences from sleep apnea. 

The threat of sleep apnea

If you suffer from sleep apnea, it can become difficult to keep your upper airway open while you sleep because weight overpowers the muscles that hold it open. When your airway closes during sleep, there is a pause in your breathing. This can happen anywhere from five to 30 times an hour. As a result, you wake up gasping for air.

When this happens, your body releases stress hormones. Overtime, those stress hormones can lead to heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in the U.S. It can also lead to stroke and high blood pressure as well as increasing your risk for type 2 diabetes and liver problems.

Additionally, sleep apnea is associated with obesity. This increases your risk for severe COVID-19 complications. It can also lead to more sleep deprivation and more obesity, which can make your condition even worse.

Are you at risk?

People with obesity are at a high risk for sleep apnea because fat deposits around the upper airway can cause the muscles to lose tone over time. That can then lead to obstructed breathing. If you have a thicker neck, narrow throat or enlarged tonsils and adenoids, you may also be at risk for sleep apnea. 

Additionally, men may be more prone to developing sleep apnea than women. To make matters worse, sleep apnea also occurs more often in older adults and younger adults. And if you smoke, drink or have a history of sleep apnea, your risk increases again.

Contact Dr. Patel at Craniofacial Pain and Dental Sleep Center of Georgia to learn more about sleep apnea and how you can further protect your heart health.