April 09, 2023 3 min read
Snoring can be nothing but a mere nuisance, or it can signal serious health problems that you shouldn’t ignore . For example, snoring is often the first sign of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a serious sleep disorder where your breathing repeatedly stops during sleep.
But snoring has also been linked to a host of other dangerous health issues, many of which affect the heart. A leading cause of death, heart disease can be made much worse by frequent snoring. Conversely, chronic snoring can put you at risk of heart disease, creating a vicious cycle.
Here is more on why that’s the case and when snoring can lead to a visit to the cardiologist.
Snoring is noisy breathing during sleep. It happens when the upper airways collapse as you doze off. Upper airway collapse leads to turbulent airflow that causes the vibration of soft tissues that make up the upper airways. This results in that all-to-familiar rattling and snorting sound.
While very common — sleep experts say that nearly everyone snores occasionally  — snoring is not exactly normal. It is a sign that something is obstructing your breathing. That something can be a congested nose, enlarged tonsils, or relaxed throat muscles.
But despite being a sign of obstructed airflow, snoring is nothing to worry about when it is infrequent and mild. However, if frequent and loud enough to be heard by everyone in your home and beyond, it may be time to speak to your doctor as snoring can signal heart problems, among many other issues.
Yes and no.
Snoring can be a symptom of OSA, a problem that has been strongly linked to heart disease. According to the American Heart Association, 40 to 80% of people with a heart condition have OSA . But even simple snoring has been linked to a modest but significant risk of heart disease according to data from the famous Nurses’ Health Study .
While highly prevalent among heart disease patients, OSA and snoring are not exactly signs you have heart disease. There is no way to establish a direct link between the two because many patients diagnosed with OSA and snoring have co-existing conditions. However, the correlation here is strong nonetheless, and there are also theories that aim to explain this link:
One theory is that the drops in blood oxygen levels that happen with OSA episodes cause dysregulation of blood pressure and the hardening of arteries .
Another theory is that fragmented sleep from OSA episodes puts further strain on the heart, possibly by increasing chronic inflammation that damages the cardiovascular system .
Many patients with heart disease snore. If you or a loved one snores frequently, you may want to consider speaking to your doctor who may recommend getting a sleep study. This is especially important if you notice other symptoms, like daytime sleepiness, morning headaches, and waking with a dry mouth.
Depending on whether you have simple snoring or OSA, the treatment can include conservative approaches, continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy, surgery, or oral appliances. Severe OSA is usually treated with CPAP therapy and healthy lifestyle habits.
Some patients with abnormalities in the upper airway (e.g. enlarged tonsils or a deviated septum) benefit from surgery. For those with simple snoring or who find CPAP difficult to adhere to, oral appliances like the Good Morning Snore Solution can also help stop snoring.
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