With a heart healthy diet and regular exercise you can improve your cardiovascular health. But there is something else that can help: the quality of your sleep. That’s right–getting quality sleep is critical to your heart health and overall well-being.

That means, if you ignore your sleep apnea or snoring, it can lead to worsening symptoms. Now is the time to make sleep apnea treatment a top priority to prevent further complications. To further make our point, here are some medical complications that can be caused by untreated sleep apnea.

Heart conditions

When you experience sudden drops in blood oxygen levels caused by sleep apnea, it can increase your blood pressure and strain your cardiovascular system. Obstructive sleep apnea can also increase your risk of recurrent heart attacks, stroke and abnormal heartbeats, such as atrial fibrillation. With heart disease, multiple episodes of low blood oxygen can lead to sudden death from an irregular heartbeat.

Type 2 diabetes

If you suffer from sleep apnea, you have a significantly higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes. This is because type 2 diabetes and sleep apnea share some common risk factors. Those include obesity and advancing age. What we know is that more than half of people with obesity are considered to be at risk for developing sleep apnea. Studies also suggest that having sleep apnea increases a person’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Any way you look at it, untreated sleep apnea is not good.


This is a more complex and complicated connection, but it is there and should not be ignored. Research has shown that depression may cause sleep problems. In return, sleep problems may cause or contribute to depression. In fact, for some people, depression symptoms occur before the onset of sleep complications. But for others, sleep problems tend to appear first. 

Dementia and memory loss

Researchers have also found that sleep apnea may be connected to brain function, memory and risk of dementia. In particular, people with Alzheimer’s disease were five times more likely than those without the condition to also have sleep apnea. Additionally, about 50% of people who have been diagnosed with dementia had experienced sleep apnea at some time after their diagnosis.

Weight gain

If you are packing on extra pounds, your chances of developing sleep apnea increase. And if you have sleep apnea, it makes it harder to lose weight. For people with obesity, fatty deposits in your neck can block breathing at night. Sleep apnea can also make your body release more of the ghrelin hormone, which makes you crave carbs and sweets. But treatment can help.

Treating sleep apnea is key to preventing further complications with your health and well-being. Contact Dr. Mayoor Patel at Craniofacial Pain and Dental Sleep Center of Georgia to learn more about your options for sleep apnea treatment.