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Sleep Apnea and High Blood Pressure- A Dangerous Pair

Sleep Apnea and High Blood Pressure a Dangerous Pair

Many people think sleep apnea is as simple as loud snoring, but it’s much more than that. Sleep apnea affects many systems in the body and is associated with several serious conditions like high blood pressure.

High blood pressure puts a daily strain on the cardiovascular system which may lead to stroke, heart disease, and other serious conditions. Fortunately, managing high blood pressure with medication and lifestyle changes can reduce your risk for harmful health effects.

It’s important to understand the relationship between sleep apnea and high blood pressure because these two conditions affect one another, and treatment for sleep apnea can lower blood pressure in people who have both.

Sleep Apnea, like high blood pressure, isn’t normally something people usually detect on their own. If you have sleep apnea, you likely don’t know about it unless you’re keeping your bed partner up at night by snoring or that you are gasping in your sleep.

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the muscles that support the soft tissues in your throat, such as your tongue and soft palate, temporarily relax. When these muscles relax, your airway is narrowed or closed, and breathing is momentarily cut off. Individuals with sleep apnea stop breathing for short periods of time when sleeping. Pauses in breathing can last just a few seconds to a few minutes and occur as little as 5 to as many as 30 times per hour.

Every time your oxygen level drops, this raises your blood pressure and causes an adrenaline surge. This puts increased stress on your heart because it must work harder to normalize your blood pressure.

 What Is the Relationship Between Sleep Apnea and High Blood Pressure?

 In healthy individuals, blood pressure naturally lowers by between 10 and 20%  at night, a phenomenon that is sometimes referred to as “blood pressure dipping“. People with severe OSA experience blood pressure dips less than 10%, which indicates a “non-dipping” blood pressure pattern.

People who have non-dipping blood pressure at night face an increased risk for cardiovascular issues. Additionally, many patients with OSA experience a sudden and pronounced elevation of their blood pressure when they wake up in the morning. This “morning surge” is another factor that may increase risk for cardiovascular disease.  OSA doesn’t only affect blood pressure at night. Studies show that daytime blood pressure levels also increase with sleep apnea severity.

Sleep apnea is one of the most common sleep disorders in the United States. Of people diagnosed with OSA, it is estimated that around half also have high blood pressure. The good news is that treatment for sleep apnea may aid in lowering blood pressure levels.

If you are suffering from high blood pressure it may benefit you to get checked for sleep apnea. Call one of our sleep medicine professionals today and get on the road to a healthier and happier you!

How Does Lack of Sleep Affect Your Heart Health?

How Does Lack of Sleep Affect Your Heart Health?

February is American Heart Month, so here at Comprehensive Sleep Care Center it is time to focus on your cardiovascular health.

Unfortunately, heart problems are a leading cause of illness and death in the United States. While factors like poor diet, limited exercise, and smoking can harm the heart, there is growing recognition of the dangers of lack of sleep or poor sleep on your heart health.

Getting enough quality sleep is necessary for our physical and mental wellbeing. Sleeping just 60 to 90 minutes more per night can make you a happier and healthier person. It is estimated that over 35% of adults don’t get enough sleep (7 hours per day) according to the CDC.

What health conditions are linked to a lack of sleep?

  • High blood pressure. During normal sleep, your blood pressure goes down. Having sleep issues means your blood pressure stays higher for a longer period of time. High blood pressure is one of the leading risks for heart disease and stroke. About 75 million Americans—1 in 3 adults—have high blood pressure.
  • Type 2 diabetes. Diabetes is a disease that causes sugar to build up in your blood, a condition that can damage your blood vessels. Some studies show that getting enough good sleep may help people improve blood sugar control.
  • Obesity. Lack of sleep can lead to unhealthy weight gain. This is especially true for children and adolescents, who need more sleep than adults. Not getting enough sleep may affect a part of the brain that controls hunger.

What sleep conditions can hurt my heart health?

Sleep ApneaSleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that occurs when a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep. People with untreated sleep apnea stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, sometimes hundreds of times. This increases the risk for many health problems, including high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke. Untreated Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) can also lead to a host of other problems like gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), diabetes, depression, hypertension, and obesity.

  • 25 million S. adults suffer from obstructive sleep apnea.
  • The National Commission on Sleep Disorders Research estimated that sleep apnea is probably responsible for 38,000 cardiovascular deaths
  • Obstructive sleep apnea increases the risk of heart failure by 140%, the risk of stroke by 60%, and the risk of coronary heart disease by 30%.

 Insomnia – Insomnia refers to difficulty falling sleep, staying asleep, or both. As many as 1 in 2 adults experience short-term insomnia, and 1 in 10 may have long-lasting or chronic insomnia. Insomnia is linked to high blood pressure and heart disease. Over time, poor sleep can also lead to unhealthy habits that can hurt your heart, including higher stress levels, less motivation to be physically active, and unhealthy food choices.

What is the best heart healthy sleep advice?

  • Avoid caffeine near bedtime
  • Engage in physical exercise, preferably earlier in the day if possible
  • Turn off the computer, phone, and TV at least 30-60 minutes before going to sleep. Blue light from these devices makes it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep.
  • Lastly when it comes to your sleep, make sure you do not have a sleep disorder. Follow up with your physician or our sleep medicine professionals.

If you are experiencing sleeping issues you should speak to your doctor or call Comprehensive Sleep Care Center at 703-729-3420 to see one of our sleep medicine specialists. We have 9 locations in Alexandria, Arlington, Chantilly, Dumfries, Lansdown and Woodbridge Virginia and Bethesda and Germantown Maryland. We are now offering TeleMedicine visits to new and returning patients. Comprehensive Sleep Care Center offers expert diagnosis, treatment, and care for sleep disorders with the goal of providing a better night’s sleep and a better day ahead.

4 Important Facts About Sleep Apnea and Heart Disease in Women

4 Important Facts About Sleep Apnea and Heart Disease in Women

While Sleep Apnea is often thought of as a men’s health issue, here are some important facts about sleep apnea and heart disease in women that you need to know.

  • Obstructive sleep apnea is thought to be more prevalent than both asthma and adult diabetes, possibly affecting more than 18 million Americans.
  • Public health advocates think it may be as big a public health hazard as smoking.
  • The National Commission on Sleep Disorders Research estimated that sleep apnea is probably responsible for 38,000 cardiovascular deaths yearly.
  • Obstructive sleep apnea increases the risk of heart failure by 140%, the risk of stroke by 60%, and the risk of coronary heart disease by 30%.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that occurs when a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep. People with untreated sleep apnea stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, sometimes hundreds of times. This means the brain — and the rest of the body — may not get enough oxygen.

  1. Women’s Hearts are More Affected by Sleep Apnea Then Men’s.

A study found that women with moderate to severe sleep apnea had more than a 30 percent higher risk of heart problems than women without sleep apnea. The study found no significant link between sleep apnea and heart problems in men. The researchers also found that, compared to women without sleep apnea, women with the disorder had higher blood levels of troponin, a chemical signal of early heart damage.

  1. Menopause Increases the Risk of Sleep Apnea and Heart Disease in Women

Higher levels of estrogen and progesterone protect women prior to the onset of menopause. These hormones maintain the airway’s muscle tone and keep it from collapsing. However, as these levels decline during perimenopause and drop to their lowest levels as part of menopause, the incidence of sleep apnea climbs. This suggest that older women may be at greater risk for sleep apnea-related heart disease than men.

Data from the 2007 Sleep in America Poll of the National Sleep Foundation demonstrated evidence that 35 percent of women entering menopause could expect to face a higher risk for developing the most serious form of sleep-disordered breathing—obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)—by the post-menopause phase, compared to younger women.

  1. Women’s Sleep Apnea Symptoms can be Different from Men’s

Sleep apnea symptoms in women may or may not mimic those in men. Often, the classic symptoms that men with OSA present, do not show up in the same way in women. Women are more likely to have complaints of restless legs, fatigue, insomnia, morning headaches, or mood swings, rather than the loud snoring and choking that men experience.

  1. Women and Untreated Sleep Apnea are not a Healthy Combination.

Untreated OSA leads to a host of other problems that can plague women: gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), diabetes, depression, hypertension, and obesity

Sleep Apnea Complications


If you are struggling with any of the issues discussed in this article, contact Comprehensive Sleep Care Center for a consultation and say hello to sleep again.