How might obstructive sleep apnea heighten cardiovascular risk?

How might obstructive sleep apnea heighten cardiovascular risk

When your breathing tube (airway) becomes blocked or narrowed while you’re sleeping, it’s known as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). If OSA is not identified and treated, it might worsen cardiac issues in patients who already have heart disease. Additionally, untreated OSA can put risky pressure on your cardiovascular system, which includes your heart and blood vessels. Snoring, stopping breathing during sleep, frequent nighttime awakenings, and trouble falling asleep and staying asleep are all common symptoms of this issue.

Two common types of sleep apnea

The two basic forms of sleep apnea are as follows:

  1. OSA (obstructed sleep apnea): It is the most prevalent type, and occurs when the tongue stops the passage of air to the back of the throat.
  2. (CSA) Central sleep apnea: It is a less frequent form of apnea that develops when your brain fails to communicate properly with the breathing muscles.

How does heart disease result from obstructive sleep apnea?

It is unclear why obstructive sleep apnea patients end up with heart disease.

You experience frequent breathing pauses from obstructive sleep apnea; these gaps indicate that you have stopped breathing. You might not be aware of them when you occasionally wake up during the night because of this. Your blood’s oxygen level drops during these breathing pauses. It is believed that frequent dips in oxygen levels, while you sleep, harm the blood arteries supplying your heart.

Additionally, your body instructs your heart to pump more quickly and your blood pressure to rise each time the oxygen level declines. Heart enlargement can also result from severe OSA stress on the heart. Because the heart cannot pump as efficiently, the body and heart receive even less oxygen.

What types of cardiovascular issues can obstructive sleep apnea cause?

Untreated obstructive sleep apnea can lead to several cardiovascular diseases. For instance, if you have this problem, you may find it difficult to manage your high blood pressure or you may be more prone to get hypertension. About 30% of all hypertension sufferers also have obstructive sleep apnea.  Obstructive sleep apnea can be treated.

OSA can cause cardiac rhythm issues, including bradycardia (slow heart rate) and atrial fibrillation (a kind of abnormal heartbeat). Atrial fibrillation is four times more common in people with severe obstructive sleep apnea than in people without OSA. It could be challenging to manage your atrial fibrillation if you don’t get therapy for your sleep apnea.

When should you visit a physician?

If you experience any of the following signs, you should see a doctor:

  • Long-term loud snoring
  • Excessive slumber during the day
  • Symptoms that are not explained, such as morning headaches or sore throats
  • Insomnia is the term used to describe sleep difficulties.
  • Breathing pauses when sleeping that an observer records
  • Waking up with breathing difficulties, gasping noises, or choking

Can Sleep Apnea be cured permanently?

Obstructive sleep apnea is caused by anatomical factors, therefore the question of a “cure” that lasts forever is difficult to answer.

A CPAP machine or an oral appliance may be used to treat persistent disorder. A CPAP is worn every night, and it operates by using air pressure to open the airway. Although many patients find it difficult or impossible to endure, CPAP is an effective treatment for it.  Another successful treatment that is typically seen as more comfortable for patients is oral appliance therapy, which resembles a mouth guard or retainer and pushes the jaw forward while sleeping to expand the airway.

A person’s anatomy may change as a result of surgery, theoretically “curing” the illness. Patients are let down by the wide variation in success rates and the problem’s propensity to reoccur.

Although oral appliances and CPAP are often more dependable options, surgery may be necessary in difficult instances, situations where no other treatment has been effective, or when the patient specifically requests it. The following are some surgical options for the management of it:

Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP): This procedure involves trimming the soft palate and uvula in addition to removing and/or repositioning other tissues in the mouth and throat to enlarge the airway. These operations, known as septoplasty and turbinate reduction, widen the nasal passageway and improve airflow.

The goal of the genioglossus advancement procedure is to make the tongue’s base harder and less likely to collapse into the airway when the patient is sleeping.


Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a problem brought on by repeated closure of the upper airway while you sleep. It is the most prevalent respiratory issue associated with sleep. OSA happens when the muscles that hold your tongue and soft palate in place in your throat loosen. Your airway may shrink or even close as a result, temporarily stopping your breathing.