Hello, My name is Wendy Rhim, Nurse Practitioner at the Sleep Centers of Middle Tennessee. Today’s discussion is the relationship between Heart Disease & Obstructive Sleep Apnea. The leading cause of death in the United States is heart disease. Several studies have shown that there is an association between sleep apnea and the development of heart disease. When a patient has sleep apnea there is a pause in breathing that causes oxygen levels in the blood to drop. When this happens the body responds by stimulating the nervous system to constrict the blood vessels to increase the amount of oxygen to the heart and brain. This results in increased blood pressure. Increased blood pressure is a major risk factor for developing heart disease. Having sleep apnea put patients at risk of developing heart failure. During apneic events the heart is stressed, increasing the workload of the heart. Also, the blood pressure is elevated, changing the pressures in the heart and increasing the risk of heart failure.

Sleep apnea has also been shown to increase the patient’s risk for heart attack. In patients with severe sleep apnea, the risk of having a heart attack is double that of a person without sleep apnea.

Patients who have Atrial Fibrillation and untreated sleep apnea the chance of a successful Cardioversion are much lower. If you have been diagnosed with heart disease, heart failure, atrial fibrillation, or have high blood pressure, ask your sleep specialist if having a sleep study is recommended for you.

Thank you for participating in today’s discussion about Obstructive Sleep Apnea & Heart Disease. For more information, please visit Sleep Centers of Middle Tennessee or call 615-893-4896.