- Up to 83% of people with heart disease also have sleep apnea.
- Sleep deprivation is also linked to a higher risk of heart disease.
Sleep apnea is a condition characterized by frequent pauses in breathing leading to uninterrupted sleep. A person suffering from severe sleep
apnea may experience pauses in breathing five to 30 times per hour or more during sleep. One in five adults suffers from at least mild case of sleep apnea, and it tends to affect more men than women. The most common type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea in which weight on the upper chest and neck contributes to blocking the flow of air leading to frequent wakefulness.
Padma Shri Awardee Dr. K.K Aggarwal, President Heart Care Foundation of India (HCFI) and National President Elect Indian Medical Association (IMA), stated that, “Over time, inadequate or poor quality sleep can increase the risk of heart disease. Short–term sleep deprivation is linked with high cholesterol, high triglycerides and high blood pressure.
In sleep apnea, oxygen levels dip and the brain sends an urgent “Breathe now!” signal. That signal briefly wakes the sleeper and makes him or her gasp for air. That signal also jolts the same stress hormone and nerve pathways that are stimulated when you are angry or frightened. As a result, the heart beats faster and blood pressure rises — along with other things that can threaten heart health such as inflammation and an increase in blood clotting ability.”
The pauses in breathing during sleep apnea occur because the oxygen level in your body falls and excites receptors that alert the brain. The brain then takes up mechanisms to compensate for reduced oxygen levels. The problem is that these mechanisms persist even during the daytime leading to high blood pressure which is a major risk factor for heart disease, stroke, heart attack, and many other medical problems.
“CPAP- continuous positive airway pressure therapy can help patients with severe sleep apnea and can greatly reduce the chances of developing more serious health problems. sing CPAP regularly at night also helps the stress on your heart. If you have atrial fibrillation, CPAP may help control irregular heartbeats”, added Dr. Aggarwal.
The following tips can help to get a good night’s sleep:
- Get regular exercise of up to 30 minutes per day. However, avoid exercising right before bed.
- Limit your alcohol consumption as much as you can, too much alcohol interferes with sleep.
- Avoid caffeine before bed.
- Develop a pre-bedtime routine such as taking a warm bath, dimming the lights or having some herbal tea.