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Can Sleep Apnea Cause Your Heart to Stop?

June 5, 2020

Filed under: Uncategorized — drmogell @ 2:17 am
heart cutout and stethoscope resting against neutral background

Obstructive sleep apnea is a serious condition that causes pauses in breathing throughout the night. It thus greatly interferes with the quality of an individual’s sleep and can have drastic effects on their daily life. It can also have a huge impact on a person’s overall health, including the well-being of one of the most important organs in the body — the heart. In this article, we’ll discuss the relationship between sleep apnea in Boca Raton and heart health.

Do Apneas Stop the Heart?

Apneas (pauses in breathing) decrease the level of oxygen in the blood. As a result, your heart rate slows down, but the heart does not stop altogether. In fact, your heart actually picks up speed once you resume breathing. This is a dangerous cycle that puts excess strain on the heart and can lead to chronic hypertension (high blood pressure). According to one estimate, 30 – 50 percent of people with high blood pressure also have sleep apnea.

You should never underestimate the danger that high blood pressure presents. It can cause heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in the United States. It may also lead to stroke, blindness, and kidney problems.

It is also worth bearing in mind that sleep apnea can interfere with the rhythm of your heart. Excess stress on this organ can causes its walls to thicken so it becomes stiffer and less flexible. These physiological changes can make the heart less efficient at pumping blood, thus leading to cardiac arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat). Most types of cardiac arrhythmia do not present an immediate threat to an individual’s life. In rare, cases, however, an irregular heartbeat can cause a blood clot and stroke.

Protecting Your Heart

Clearly, sleep apnea can have devastating effects on your heart. To protect this precious organ, you should:

  • Visit a sleep doctor. A doctor can help you get tested for sleep apnea so you can begin exploring your treatment options. An oral sleep appliance may be able to help you breathe easier at night and lessen the strain on your heart.
  • Evaluate your lifestyle. If you have sleep apnea and other risk factors that can affect your heart, your risk of cardiac problems is particularly high. You may be able to lower your risk by changing potentially harmful habits. For example, losing excess weight and quitting smoking could both lessen the severity of sleep apnea and have a direct, positive effect on your heart health.

How is your heart doing? If you suspect you have sleep apnea, seeking treatment could be the key to protecting the most precious organ in your body!

About the Author

Dr. Kenneth Mogell is a sleep dentist in Boca Raton with many years of experience in helping patients breathe easier at night via the use of oral sleep appliances. He is a Diplomate of the American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine and a member of several other prestigious organizations. If you would like to speak to Dr. Mogell about how you can find relief from sleep apnea and lower your risk of OSA-related health complications, contact our office today at 561-394-9000.

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