Do you notice yourself snoring or gasping in your sleep and waking up feeling unrefreshed? You could be suffering from sleep apnea. A severe sleep disorder in which breathing stops abruptly during sleep, if left untreated, sleep apnea may lead to long-term health complications, including heart disease. Learn more about how to know if you have sleep apnea, its effects on the heart and the latest treatments below.
How Do I Know If I Have Sleep Apnea?
Most patients with sleep apnea experience some common symptoms. These include snoring loudly and frequently, gasping or choking during sleep, feeling tired upon waking up regardless of how much time you spend sleeping, headaches in the morning and difficulty concentrating.
If your partner notices that you stop breathing during your sleep or that your breathing is shallow and rapid, that could be a sign of sleep apnea.
How Does Sleep Apnea Affect My Heart?
Sleep apnea can cause an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke due to the havoc it wreaks on your sleep cycle. The quality of your rest affects the ability of your heart to function correctly. With consistent oxygen deprivation caused by sleep apnea, you can develop high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat and increased risk for stroke and coronary artery disease.
Additionally, with sleep apnea, your body responds by releasing hormones like adrenaline and cortisol that can further aggravate heart issues. Because of these hormones, your blood pressure rises, and you may experience chest pain or palpitations.
How Can I Treat Sleep Apnea?
Treating sleep apnea is essential to reduce the risk of developing severe health complications, such as heart disease. The most common treatment option for sleep apnea is CPAP therapy or continuous positive airway pressure therapy. The patient wears a mask connected to the machine while sleeping, which provides a steady stream of air that helps keep the airway open.
Another option is an oral appliance. It works by holding the lower jaw in a slightly forward and stable position, allowing more air to travel and removing the obstruction caused by the throat muscles and soft tissue. Many patients find positive results and reduced symptoms by wearing an oral appliance during sleep.
Sleep apnea can seriously impact your overall health, so taking action is essential. Don’t hesitate to reach out to Atlanta Smiles today to talk more about your sleep health and your oral appliance options.
Marianna Kovitch, DMD, is a diplomate of the American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine (DABDSM). Dr. Kovitch received her Doctor of Dental Medicine from the Medical College of Georgia after earning her Bachelor of Science with honors in chemistry. She also received recognition in research publications for her work in biochemistry from Georgia State University. Dr. Kovitch has been an active board member of the Academy of General Dentistry since 2013 and has contributed to the development of dentistry excellence in Georgia.
Marianna Kovitch, D.M.D., DABDSM • Atlanta Smiles
404.262.7733 • www.goodnightsleepga.com