Sleep is vital for both your mind and body. Unfortunately, 25 million American adults suffer from severe obstructive sleep apnea, a common sleep disorder that can have serious consequences, particularly when it comes to the heart.
Dr. Michael Avaricio of Advanced Cardiac Care in Queens, New York, is dedicated to helping patients alleviate the nightly disruptions of sleep apnea to protect their physical and emotional health. In this blog, he explains what sleep apnea is, how it impacts your heart, and what you can do about it.
Sleep apnea is a disorder that causes interruptions of breathing during sleep. There are two main types of sleep apnea: obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type.
In sleep apnea, the muscles in the back of your throat relax, closing your airway so you can’t inhale. Sensing that you can’t draw air into your body, your brain wakes you up so you can breathe. Though you may not remember this happening, it can occur 5 to 30 times an hour, preventing you from getting high-quality, deep sleep.
Sleep apnea can take a severe toll on your body and your mind. The symptoms you may experience include:
The exact symptoms you experience will depend on many factors. Regardless, they can have serious consequences. The diminished oxygen supply oxygen levels for short periods, increasing long-term damage to your heart and can even be deadly.
Breathing brings oxygen into your body, which is necessary for your body to perform its essential functions. When you stop breathing, the levels of oxygen in your blood drop, which increases blood pressure.
This increase in blood pressure can cause significant strain your heart and cardiovascular system. Obstructive sleep apnea increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, including hypertension, arrhythmia, stroke, coronary artery disease, and heart failure.
If you already have heart disease, the drop in oxygen caused by sleep apnea can cause sudden death.
First, Dr. Avaricio evaluates your signs and symptoms through a physical examination and your health history. From here, he may may provide you with an at-home version of sleep test (a polysomnogram). This test measure your airflow, breathing patterns and blood oxygen levels, and possibly limb movements and snoring intensity.
In some cases, patients are referred to a sleep center for an in-lab study.
While the symptoms can be distressing, there are a number of treatment options that can help. To start, the cause of your sleep apnea is determined. If, for instance, excess weight, is a significant factor, as it can cause or worsen sleep apnea, this condition is addressed. Those who are overweight often have extra tissue in the back of the throat, which can block the flow of air during sleep.
There are also a number of medical devices that can treat your sleep apnea. One option is a night guard that fits in your mouth and shifts your lower jaw forward to help keep your airway open. These devices are custom made to fit your mouth in order to be comfortable.
Other treatment options include surgery, laser therapy, and continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. These will help address your sleep apnea and ensure that your body and heart get the oxygen they need and that you get a good night’s rest.
If you suspect you may be suffering from sleep apnea, make an appointment with Dr. Avaricio at Advanced Cardiac Care in Ozone Park, Queens, New York. You can reach the office via phone or the Request Appointment link on this page.