HRHS Team Member Blog

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Sleep ApneaFebruary is Heart Health Month; we all know we should eat a heart healthy diet and exercise daily. Did you know that your sleep can be as important for heart health as diet and exercise?


People with cardiovascular problems such as high blood pressure, heart failure, and stroke have a high prevalence of sleep apnea. Studies have shown that if you have sleep apnea today, the chance that you will develop hypertension in the future increases significantly.
When people with high blood pressure or heart failure are treated for sleep apnea, the measures of blood pressure or heart failure are significantly improved. According to sleep medicine experts, there is good evidence to think there is a cause-and-effect relationship between hypertension and sleep apnea.

Your blood pressure will go up because when you're not breathing, the oxygen level in your body falls and excites receptors that alert the brain. In response, the brain sends signals through the nervous system and essentially tells the blood vessels to "tighten up" in order to increase the flow of oxygen to the heart and the brain, because they have priority. Sleep Apnea causes low oxygen levels at night. These low oxygen levels seem to trigger multiple mechanisms that persist during the daytime, even when breathing normally.
Atrial fibrillation is a common type of irregular heart beat that is also associated with sleep apnea. If sleep apnea is untreated, the chance of a recurrence of atrial fibrillation can increase up to 80%.

Symptoms of Sleep Apnea include loud and chronic (ongoing) snoring. Pauses may occur in the snoring. Choking or gasping may follow the pauses. You may also fighting sleepiness during the day, at work, or while driving. You may find yourself rapidly falling asleep during the quiet moments of the day when you're not active.

You may suffer from morning headaches, memory or learning problems and difficulty concentrating. Mood swings, irritability, depression or personality changes are also signs of a sleep disorder. Many people with Sleep apnea report waking up frequently to urinate, and complain of a dry mouth or a sore throat when they wake.

If you think you may have a sleep disorder, please talk to your health care provider. You may need a sleep study.

 
Mary Duesterhaus, RPSGT,REEGT,CRT Clinical Coordinator Neurodiagnostics - Hannibal Regional Hospital - Sleep Services

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