Does your partner poke fun at you about your snoring? If you’re a woman, it can be a little embarrassing to admit that you snore, but the truth is that it could affect so much more than just your pride. For Women’s Health Month this May, you’re likely refreshing your memory about doing self-exams for breast cancer and visiting your doctor for your well-woman checkup. But are you thinking enough about the quality of your sleep? Did you know that it can affect your heart? In this post, you’ll learn about how obstructive sleep apnea in Denver can impact your health—particularly your heart function.
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a chronic condition in which breathing ceases for more than 10 seconds during sleep. As a result, the brain wakes the body up just enough to resume breathing. These lapses can happen up to hundreds of times per night, disrupting your ability to get restful sleep. The most common type is obstructive sleep apnea, where something—often the facial tissues—blocks the airways, restricting breathing and causing snoring sounds.
Why is it important to treat sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea can lead to a myriad of problems. The sleep deprivation alone drains your energy, impairs your ability to focus or remember, elongates your reaction time, and interferes with your brain function. In fact, studies have found that driving while drowsy can be just as dangerous as driving while drunk. In addition, research has shown that sleep apnea has a negative impact on women in particular. For example, pregnant women who have sleep apnea are more likely to experience complications such as preeclampsia and pre-term birth.
How can sleep apnea impact my heart health?
Upon not getting enough oxygen, your brain releases signals for stress hormones that increase your blood pressure. Without treatment, these spikes can become more frequent and eventually become the norm, even when awake. High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and cardiovascular events such as a heart attack or stroke.
Also, a recent study found that women who snore or have obstructive sleep apnea were at a higher risk for cardiac impairment compared to men. Sadly, the study also revealed that sleep apnea may be extremely underdiagnosed, meaning that many women with sleep apnea are not getting the treatment they need to have quality sleep and potentially better health.
How can I know if I have sleep apnea?
If you experience the following symptoms, you may have obstructive sleep apnea:
- Loud, chronic snoring in Denver.
- Gasping for breath during sleep.
- Daytime drowsiness.
- Dry mouth or sore throat upon waking.
- Trouble focusing or remembering.
- Depression or moodiness.
It’s important to note that not everyone who snores has sleep apnea and not all sleep apnea patients snore. That’s why you need to undergo a sleep study to know for certain whether you have sleep apnea or not. That way, you can be officially diagnosed and receive the necessary treatment to finally get the rest that you deserve.
This May, in addition to all the other healthy practices that you’re going to integrate into your lifestyle, take some time to evaluate your sleep health. If you think that you might have sleep apnea, you don’t have to suffer and bear it. Seek help! Your body, more specifically your heart, will thank you in the long run.
About the Author
As sleep apnea patients themselves, Dr. Gary Radz and Dr. Glenn Thompson each found relief from their symptoms through oral appliances. At Downtown Denver Sleep Solutions, they offer sleep apnea treatment and have successfully helped hundreds of patients. Dr. Radz and Dr. Thompson both belong to the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine and have taken hundreds of hours in sleep apnea education. To schedule an appointment with them, call (303) 377-5337 or click here.