Back in February it was National Heart Month. While one month out of the year is dedicated to spreading awareness for heart health, we want to continue that same awareness throughout the year—because it should always matter. At AZ Sleep & TMJ Solutions it is our goal to help you maintain optimal oral and overall health, which is why it is important that you understand the link between heart disease and sleep apnea.

The Connection Between Sleep Apnea and Heart Disease

While plain old snoring can get a little annoying, especially for someone listening to it, the repeated pauses in breathing can lead to cardiovascular problems. When this occurs, it can be potentially life threatening. If you suffer from sleep apnea, you can experience pauses in breathing five to 30 times per hour (or more) during sleep. This prevents restful sleep and is associated with high blood pressure, arrhythmia, stroke and heart failure—all conditions you need to be aware of.

As you may already know, heart disease is the leading cause of death in America. Stroke is the fifth leading cause, along with disability, and high blood pressure is a major risk factor for both. The evidence is very strong for the relationship between stroke and heart disease, but what most people don’t know is the connection with sleep apnea.

Approximately one in five adults suffer from mild sleep apnea and the most common form being obstructive sleep apnea in which weight on the upper chest and neck contributes to blocking the flow of air. Obstructive sleep apnea is also linked with obesity, which is also a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. While obesity contributes to sleep apnea and heart disease, sleep deprivation caused by sleep apnea can lead to further obesity.

Take charge of your heart health all year by understanding the risk factors for heart disease and sleep apnea. By understanding risk factors, you can further protect yourself from heart disease and the harmful effects of living with sleep apnea.

Contact Dr. Sara at AZ Sleep & TMJ Solutions in North Scottsdale to learn more about sleep apnea, heart disease and how you can improve your health beyond just oral.