Can Snoring Increase the Risk of Heart Disease?
Sleeping with someone having a long-standing snoring habit can be a really difficult routine. However, if you look closely, you’ll understand that the habit may be actually causing more harm to the snorer himself/herself than you.
For you, it may be plainly a disturbing sound, but for him/her it could be the symptom of a life-threatening problem.
Going by its definition, snoring is the production of loud sounds when breathing during ones sleep. Its main cause is throat blockage that leads to constriction in the windpipe. The peculiar snoring sound gets produced whenever the soft palate or uvula sticks against your throat’s rear end, creating an obstruction inside the pharynx.
Are you aware that any individual having a neck circumference larger than 16 inches has far more chances of suffering from the snoring problem, compared to others? Furthermore, overweight and shorter women can be seen snoring more heavily and aggressively than others. Statistically speaking, snoring sounds vary anywhere from 50 – 100 dB.
Some of the commonly known causes of snoring are sinusitis, wrong sleeping posture, smoking, cold, alcohol, nasal problems, allergies etc.
Snoring and the Risk of Heart Attack or Heart Disease
Yes, you read that right! Heart attack and snoring are indeed related! Whenever you snore during your sleep, you end up disrupting the natural cardiac rhythm of your body. This results in the creation of a hypertensive state in the human body owing to the oxygen deficiency, which negatively impacts the body’s immunity level.
Almost one third of our lives are spent sleeping. Snoring for around 30 minutes each day can cut the oxygen supply to our brain for almost 10 seconds. If not checked, this phenomenon can lead to several health disorders over a period of time. First and foremost, it enhances the risk of suffering from carotid atherosclerosis wherein blockages start forming in the carotid arteries. Gradual narrowing of the arteries reduces the blood flow inside the body, resulting in faster pumping of the heart for elevating the body’s oxygen levels.
If you’re someone who snores regularly at night, the habit can spike up your risk of suffering a heart stroke by as much as 67%. Furthermore, medical observations have revealed that regular snoring increases the heart attack chances by as much as 34%, especially in loud snorers. Whether you acknowledge or not, the fact remains that heart diseases and snoring habit are interrelated. If you’re suffering from one, the chances are high that you’ll get the other one soon too. Snoring may also result in heart enlargement over a period of time, as human heart is nothing but a muscle.
Let me add another very interesting piece of information here, it’s been found that maximum cases of heartburn, heart stroke or heart attack happen between 3 AM and 5 AM. People who have the snoring habit are in their deepest sleep levels during this time and snore heavily. This is no coincidence. Snoring can lead to other health complications as well, which in turn may affect the overall health of your heart. Let’s go over some of them as follows:
High Cholesterol Levels
This is completely in regard to the effect that snoring has on people’s cardiovascular systems and the respiratory sleep disorder it normally causes. Owing to these conditions, the snorer may suffer from sleep deprivation or high cholesterol, resulting in clogging up of his/her arteries. Furthermore, he/she may not be able to enjoy a healthy relationship with his/her partner as the partner may also not get good sleep.
Although taken for granted for the most part of our lives, sleep is one of the most essential need of the human body, to function at its full potential. In addition, irritable sleeping habits can become a cause of disharmonious relationships, creating gaps between partners. So, the next time you notice your husband/boyfriend/girlfriend/wife waking up in a bad mood, you know what to blame!
Snoring shortens your breathing duration. Hence you have to breathe harder to feel comfortable, and constantly gasp for oxygen. The facts that I’m about to state now may seem quite gross to you, but please note, this is exactly what happens whenever you snore during your sleep at night.
Whenever you breathe hard, the mucus inside your nasal cavity is sucked inside by the esophagus, causing it to enter your stomach. Yes, you’re picturing it alright! That dirty brown or greenish mucus that you often blowout from your nose, goes inside your stomach and mixes up with everything there. The result – Nausea.
If you sleep with a person who snores regularly, you may have noticed him/her clearing his/her throat and coughing during sleep. He/she does it whenever the mucus from his/her nose travels down to his/her throat and blocks it.
Regular snoring increases the tension inside the patient’s respiratory system making his/her organs work overtime. His/her muscles have to work extra hard and tense up while trying to maintain the consistency of airflow. Eventually, this constant tension results in inflammation and obstruction of the windpipe leading to chronic bronchitis.
Despite the scientists still carrying out research on the relationship between chronic bronchitis and snoring habit, health experts all over the world endorse this theory.
You may or may not be affected by this particular side-effect of snoring, but your partner is most likely to be. Around 3% of the global population doesn’t get a peaceful night’s sleep, owing to the snoring habit of their partners. These people have to deal with health conditions like exhaustion and fatigue during the daytime, as a direct result of sleep deprivation. Going by the averages, the partners of people who snore get only around 3 to 5 hours of sleep each night (obviously when they sleep together!).
High Blood Pressure
Whenever you snore, the oxygen level in your body goes down and adrenaline gets secreted in very high amounts. This spikes up the blood pressure level and your heart needs to pump the blood harder, resulting in heart problems. Going by the research data, chronic snorers have 40% more chances of suffering from high blood pressure compared to non-snorers.
Type II Diabetes
As mentioned in the point above, your adrenaline levels get very high whenever you snore during sleep at night. This leads to an elevation in the blood sugar levels as well, and may cause diabetes. Owing to oxygen deficiency, the excessive sugar in your body settles down in various body parts such as buttocks, thighs and belly. In addition, the secretion of catecholamines results in insulin resistance, thereby enhancing the overall condition.
Muscle relaxation is something that is very critical for de-stressing physically and mentally during ones sleep. It isn’t uncommon of snorers to constantly complain about persisting headaches or migraine. Such constant bouts of morning headaches or migraine have a solid reason too.
The act of snoring during sleep, creates a constant vibrating motion in the person’s body. That in addition to depleted oxygen levels (especially for the brain) during the entire duration of sleep, and waking up frequently during sleep, results in poor functioning of the body. Hence, the brain also produces stress hormones as its’ natural way of counteracting sleep deprivation.
The chances of an overweight person to snore heavily during sleep are almost 3 times more than someone who is underweight or at his/her ideal body weight. As the body has to work overtime in case of snoring problem, the person’s metabolic functions also slow down significantly, stimulating the fat accumulation process. On the other hand, his/her muscles start turning flabby.
Any increment in weight may further stress out the body, leading to worsening of the snoring problem. Your snoring may become harder and louder. All in all, it takes shape of a vicious circle.
Prevention Works Far Better Than Cure
There is no need to get scared as you’ll not die of a heart attack if you’re a light snorer! Nevertheless, you must take appropriate measures to control and stop your snoring problem before it starts taking a toll on your health. Some of the common ways of tackling this problem are:
- Take up some weight loss regime in case your snoring is due to obesity.
- Clean out and blow your nose thoroughly before going to sleep.
- Cut down the number of cigarettes you smoke each day.
- Completely avoid or at least cut down your alcohol consumption especially before bedtime.
- Make use of some reliable, medical grade and high quality anti-snoring mouthpiece.
- Practice some meditation routine or some breathing exercises to strengthen your respiratory system and to improve blood circulation inside your body.
- Avoid sleeping on your back.
- Always make it a point that your head is rested on a slightly elevated platform (such as a pillow) than the rest of your body, during sleep.
Even as we discuss the adverse effects of snoring problem, there are 1 billion people out there in the world who snore every night. The condition is highly prevalent in pregnant women and overweight people. Furthermore, men are more vulnerable to snoring than women.
As discussed above, chronic snoring can increase your risk of suffering from a heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol and many other harmful health conditions. Female snorers have double the chances of suffering a heart stroke or heart attack than non-snoring women.
Information! The ageing process naturally causes the muscles to collapse over a period of time, resulting in narrowing the path of airflow. This in turn may worsen the snoring problem. Hence, if you’re expecting your spouse or partner to stop snoring magically someday, the chances of it happening are quite bleak. Unless you take some good measures to tackle the issue, like the use of some good quality medical grade anti-snoring device, the problem will only get worse with time.
Some medical researches have revealed alarming facts related to snoring. People who snore heavily are at the risk of dying within one month of getting their first heart attack. In case you’re a heavy snorer, you must also get yourself checked for sleep apnea and other commonly known heart conditions, as they’re all closely linked.
All in all, if your partner has been complaining about your irritating snoring habit, don’t take it lightly. It’s not the sound which is a major worry here, but the impact snoring may have on your heart can become life-threatening!