My name is Wendy Rhim, and I’m a Nurse Practitioner at the Sleep Centers of Middle Tennessee. Today, I’m going to discuss a scary topic – the relationship between sleep apnea and heart attacks.

Let’s get a better understanding of what sleep apnea is, how it affects heart health, and what you can do to treat and prevent heart related health concerns.

How Sleep Apnea Affects Heart Health

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 related diseases. [1]

What Is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea occurs when there is a pause in breathing from an obstruction, such as the relaxation of the muscles in your throat (also known as snoring).

At the same time, this causes oxygen levels in the blood to drop, and the body responds by stimulating the nervous system to constrict the blood vessels, increasing the amount of oxygen to the heart and to the brain.

Sleep Apnea & Heart Disease

Above all, having sleep apnea put patients at risk of developing heart related diseases.

By overexerting the workload of the heart, sleep apnea causes blood pressure to elevate and increases the risk of developing hypertension as well as increases the chances of having a heart attack or stroke.

What You Likely Don’t Know About Hypertension But Should

Patients with severe sleep apnea have a much higher risk of having a heart attack than a person without sleep apnea. The risk almost doubles!

Additionally, patients who have atrial fibrillation with untreated sleep apnea have a much lower chance of a successful cardioversion. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Cardioversion is a medical procedure that restores a normal heart rhythm in people with certain types of abnormal heartbeats.” [2]

How to Treat Sleep Apnea

If you have been diagnosed with heart disease, heart failure, atrial fibrillation, or have high blood pressure, our professional sleep specialists can help.

5 Important Signs You Need A Sleep Test

We Can Help You Improve Your Sleep

Contact us today and get better sleep and improve your health.

Thank you for participating in today’s discussion about Obstructive Sleep Apnea & Heart Disease.

-Wendy Rhim, Nurse Practitioner at the Sleep Centers of Middle Tennessee




[2] Mayo Clinic: