Study: Snoring May Be Heart Risk
Do you sound like a chainsaw at night? Chances are, it could kill you. Not because your sleeping partner finally gets fed up—although that could certainly happen—but because of abnormalities in your carotid artery.
“Snoring is more than a bedtime annoyance and it should not be ignored,” said Henry Ford Hospital’s Robert Deeb, who led a study exploring snoring’s link to health issues. “Patients need to seek treatment the same way they would if they had sleep apnea, high blood pressure or other risk factors for cardiovascular disease.”
For years scientists have been aware of the relationship between snoring, sleep apnea—which causes interrupted breathing—and cardiovascular disease such as heart attacks and strokes. But there was little evidence between “plain” snoring and cardiovascular risk. But scientists now believe snoring has its own implications before sleep apnea is ever developed.
“Our study adds to the growing body of evidence suggesting isolated snoring may not be as benign as first suspected,” Deeb said. “So instead of kicking your snoring bed partner out of the room or spending sleepless nights elbowing him or her, seek out medical treatment for the snorer.”
According to Deeb’s research—presented at the 2013 Combined Sections Meeting of the Triological Society in Arizona—snoring’s vibrations can cause trauma and inflammation of the carotid artery, which carries oxygen to the brain.
Deeb and his team studied 54 patients aged 18 to 50, none of whom had sleep apnea. After the participants completed a survey about snoring, an ultrasound was conducted the thickness of their carotid arteries. Snorers’ arteries were significantly thicker than non-snorers’. Meanwhile, the study found no significant differences in thicknesses in patients with traditional cardiovascular risk factors such as smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
“Snoring is generally regarded as a cosmetic issue by health insurance, requiring significant out of pocket expenses by patients,” Deeb said. “We are hoping to change that thinking so patients can get the early treatment they need, before more serious health issues arise.”
[Image via Shutterstock]
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