An estimated 12 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea, many of whom may not even realize it. This sleep disorder causes constant disruptions while you are sleeping that prevent you from getting the rest you need. Sleep apnea disrupts the health of your whole body, including increasing your risk of sudden cardiac death (when the heart suddenly stops beating).
Sudden Cardiac Death Vs. Heart Attack
Heart attacks are not the same as sudden cardiac death (also known as cardiac arrest). A heart attack is caused by a blockage that prevents blood from flowing to the heart. Symptoms such as chest pain, sleep disruption, and difficulty breathing may appear several weeks before a heart attack strikes. The heart usually does not stop beating during a heart attack, but is unable to pump oxygen-rich blood to the brain and other parts of the body. Sudden cardiac death occurs when your heart malfunctions and stops beating. The brain stops receiving oxygen-rich blood when the heart stops, resulting in a loss of consciousness. This condition is fatal if not treated within minutes.
Sleep Apnea and Sudden Cardiac Death
A study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology in June 2013 found that sleep apnea patients had an increased risk of experiencing sudden cardiac death. In this study, 10,701 subjects were monitored for an average of 5.3 years and instances of cardiac arrest (either resuscitated or fatal) were recorded. During the study, 142 patients experienced sudden cardiac death. The most common predictors among those patients were being over the age of 60, experiencing 20 apnea episodes per hour, and having low blood oxygen saturation below 78 percent prior to the attack.
When you stop breathing throughout the night, your blood will not contain enough oxygen to deliver throughout your body. As a result, your blood oxygen saturation will drop. The higher number of sleep disruptions that you experience per hour, the lower your blood oxygen saturation. The study found that patients with a blood oxygen saturation as low as 78 percent were 80 percent more likely to experience sudden cardiac death.
Sleep Apnea Treatment May Decrease Your Risk
Snoring, often considered a comical and normal sleep function, is a common indication of sleep apnea. If you snore, you may benefit from having a professional sleep evaluation to determine whether or not you suffer from sleep apnea. Dr. Winters can create a custom-fit snoreguard for you that will improve your airflow during sleep. Improved airflow will raise your blood oxygen saturation and reduce your risk of conditions associated with sleep apnea such as sudden cardiac death by giving your body the rest it needs.
If you would like to learn more about the benefits of snoreguards for sleep apnea treatment, please contact us at 918-528-3330 for an appointment at Winters Dental Excellence in Tulsa today.