Most people associate the dangers of snoring to sleep apnea. It’s definitely a bedtime nuisance, especially for your spouse who probably lies awake at night thanks to all the noise, but it is also a health hazard.
You had a really tiring day and you when you did finally hit the bed, you snored through the night. Now that is common; it happens to all of us when we are too exhausted. But if snoring is a habit for you, irrespective of whether you had a busy day or not, you could be more at risk to cardiovascular disease.
Researchers from Henry Ford Hospital, Detroit now reveal that those who snore are more susceptible to cardiovascular diseases as the habit can result in abnormalities and thickening of the carotid artery.
The Scoop on Snoring
Snoring is not a harmless habit; it is very much a health concern you must not ignore. If you snore regularly, this is a sign of disrupted sleep patterns, with or without sleep apnea. The investigations carried out by the team of researchers at Detroit’s esteemed Henry Ford Hospital has conclusive data which proves snoring could be the precursor to cardiovascular diseases. Snoring is closely linked with thickening of the inner lining of the main carotid artery which carries blood and oxygen to the brain.
Researchers now believe that snoring is one of the early symptoms of carotid artery disease wherein risk to a heart stroke increases due to the blockage and narrowing of the arterial thickening.
Until now, most medical experts associated risk of stroke with obesity, smoking, alcohol consumption, high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels. However, thanks to this research, now snoring has been added to the list of potential risk factors for cardiovascular diseases.
The research was conducted by Dr. Robert Deeb who works at the Department of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery at Henry Ford Hospital, along with Dr. Kathleen Yaremchuk. It studied 913 patients between the ages of 18 and 50, none of whom suffered from sleep apnea.
A carotid duplex ultrasound was used to measure the ‘intima-media thickness’ of the carotid artery, which is the first sign of carotid arterial disease. Snorers were found to have an elevated intima-media thickness with no statistical significant differences found in patients with other traditional risk factors to heart health – diabetes, smoking, hypercholesterolemia and hypertension.
Why You Shouldn’t Ignore Snoring?
It is imperative that this habit isn’t ignored since this new research makes it evident that most snorers, even those who do not suffer from sleep apnea, experience undesirable changes in the carotid artery. These changes could be caused for a variety of reasons – stress, trauma to the artery and even inflammation that is caused due to the vibrations within the body when a person snores.
Think of snoring as an early symptom of heart diseases, as this starts long before Obstructive Sleep Apnea reveals itself.
“Snoring is not just a mere bedtime annoyance. It is important that you seek medical treatment for snoring, just like you would for high blood pressure, sleep apnea and other risk factors that contribute to cardiovascular diseases”, says Dr. Robert Deeb, the lead study author for the research done at Henry Ford. “Our research proves that snoring is not as benign as you might expect. Snoring is a frequent symptom of obstructive sleep apnea—but not everyone who snores has sleep apnea. Overall, much less attention has been paid to the possible health problems of snoring when it is not accompanied by sleep apnea, which is what makes it so dangerous”, he added.
Tips to Reduce the Health Risk of Snoring
It is important to diminish the risks of snoring as it may pose a serious health problem. A lot more studies need to be conducted to understand the true repercussions of snoring on your heart health, but until then, here are some tips to reduce your risk factor to cardiovascular diseases.
Try to maintain a healthy weight. Snoring and excessive weight go hand in hand. Losing even a few kilos can make a huge difference.
Quit smoking as the smoke inhaled inflames and irritates the airways, which increases chances for snoring.
Do not drink excessively. If you must drink alcohol, keep your consumption moderate and ensure that you keep a minimum of 3 hours of gap between drinking and bedtime.
Always tell your physician you snore. This gives your doctor a chance to keep a close tab on your heart health and offer advice to correct this problem through dental devices or mouth guards.
Snoring may be a common habit, but that doesn’t make it harmless. It does pose a serious danger to your heart health if ignored for too long. So take charge of your health, and make sure that you find a treatment plan that guarantees a night of restful sleep sans snoring.