Sleep Apnea Strains Your Heart and Lungs
Cardiovascular risks are the most deadly dangers associated with sleep apnea. People with sleep apnea are more likely to experience:
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- Heart arrhythmias like atrial fibrillation
- Heart attack and heart failure
- Pulmonary embolism
- Kidney disease
- Erectile dysfunction
High blood pressure is extremely common in people with sleep apnea. It’s so common, in fact, that elevated blood pressure is often used as a screening tool for sleep apnea. High blood pressure associated with sleep apnea doesn’t respond well to medications. Sleep apnea is also associated with arterial damage and thickening of your arteries, atherosclerosis.
The repeated episodes of responding to oxygen deprivation put a strain on your heart and can cause it to develop irregular rhythms. The most common heart arrhythmia associated with sleep apnea is atrial fibrillation. Heart strain can lead to more than arrhythmias, it can lead to heart attack and heart failure. The combination of thickened arteries and high blood pressure makes it likely that arterial clogs will break off and obstruct blood flow in the brain, a stroke. Or obstructions in the legs can travel to the heart and lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism.
Secondary effects of heart problems like damaged kidneys and erectile dysfunction are also common in people with sleep apnea.
It’s important to remember that it’s never too late to treat your sleep apnea. Sleep apnea treatment can be an important part of recovery after your heart failure or stroke.
Sleep Apnea Disrupts Your Metabolism
But it isn’t just your heart and lungs that suffer when you have sleep apnea. The condition disrupts your metabolism, leading to many other serious dangers. People with sleep apnea often experience:
- Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes
- Weight gain
- Low energy and fatigue
- Systemic inflammation
Sleep apnea disrupts the way your body uses and stores energy. This leads to numerous effects like type 1 and type 2 diabetes, weight gain, and low energy. It also affects your immune system function, leading to systemic inflammation, where your immune system is constantly on alert. Among the secondary consequences of chronic systemic inflammation is an elevated cancer risk, although the exact link between cancer and sleep apnea is not as well defined as some other risks.
Poor Sleep Affects Your Emotions and Thoughts
The human brain is notoriously sensitive to disruptions in sleep. So it’s no surprise that chronic sleep disruptions in sleep apnea would lead to psychological and mood problems. Among the problems linked to sleep apnea are:
- Depression, irritability, and mood disorders
- Poor memory, especially short-term memory
- Early-onset dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
- Loss of motivation
- Accidents related to inattention, including traffic and workplace accidents
- Loss of sexual drive and low sexual satisfaction
- Suicide ideation and suicide attempts
The emotional and cognitive effects of sleep apnea are complex and varied. Many people find that their enjoyment of things they used to love is dramatically diminished. This not only reduces their quality of life, it reduces their drive to improve their quality of life. Some of these effects are also linked to a disruption of body function. Dementia, for example, is linked to a change in the way the body clears toxins from the brain, which normally occurs during sleep.
You Have the Power to Escape Sleep Apnea in Torrance
Fortunately, although sleep apnea is dangerous, even potentially deadly, it is treatable. Torrance, CA sleep dentist Dr. Webber offers a comfortable, convenient alternative to the sleep apnea treatment your doctor prescribed. To learn more about your treatment options, please call (310) 534-3477 today for an appointment at Simply Smiles in Torrance, CA.