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Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) and your heart

People with Obstructive Sleep Apnoea suffer from repetitive sleep disruptions throughout the night, leaving them with excessive daytime sleepiness. As a result, OSA may cause numerous health consequences due to the severe stress that occurs with each apnoea, or pause in breathing.1 OSA appears to contribute to or exacerbate certain cardiovascular diseases (CAD).

Hypertension

People with OSA have an increased risk of developing hypertension, or high blood pressure, due to prolonged stress on the heart.1 Sixty-four percent of patients with drug resistant hypertension also suffer from Obstructive Sleep Apnoea.2 In most cases, the more severe the OSA, the greater the risk of developing hypertension.

Coronary artery disease (CAD)

Coronary artery disease is caused by the build-up of fatty deposits in your major heart arteries. As a result, your heart receives less blood and oxygen. Eventually, you may experience chest pain, shortness of breath or a heart attack.

Obstructive Sleep Apnoea in people with coronary artery disease occurs twice as often compared to non-CAD patients.3 OSA may worsen coronary artery disease because of the swings in blood pressure that occur during disruptive breathing.4 The subsequent reduced levels of oxygen and added stress can make your blood vessels more susceptible to damage.4

Cardiac rhythm disorders

Cardiac rhythm disorders, or irregular heartbeats, are often reported in people with OSA and increase with the number of sleep apnoea episodes. Indeed, the odds of having an abnormal heartbeat are 18 times higher after each pause in breathing when compared to normal sleep breathing.1 Nocturnal cardio rhythm disorders have been shown to occur in up to 50% of OSA patients.1

 

Heart failure

Heart failure is caused by other diseases or conditions that damage the heart muscle. OSA may weaken your heart muscle’s pumping ability, leading to congestive heart failure.1 Studies show that OSA occurs in 11% to 37% of people with heart failure1, and some form of sleep disordered breathing occurs in 76% of heart failure patients.6

OSA and heart failure are associated with frequent hospitalisations, high financial costs and mortality.3

 

Stroke

Stroke is caused by the loss of brain function due to a disturbance in the blood supply to the brain. As many as 63% of people who have suffered a stroke also experience some form of sleep apnoea, including OSA.5 Studies have shown that OSA patients who have suffered a stroke show an increased risk of death.1

 

Treatment

It’s important to properly screen and treat your OSA to reduce your risk of heart disease. Our tailored ResMed solutions with easy-to-use treatment options may help you live, sleep and breathe better.

References

  1. Somers VK, White DP, Amin R, et al. Sleep Apnea and Cardiovascular Disease: An American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology Foundation Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association Council for High Blood Pressure Research Professional Education Committee, Council on Clinical Cardiology, Stroke Council, and Council on Cardiovascular Nursing In Collaboration With the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute National Center on Sleep Disorders Research (National Institutes of Health).

2: Pedrosa, R.P., et al., Obstructive sleep apnea: the most common secondary cause of hypertension associated with resistant hypertension. Hypertension, 2011. 58(5): p. 811-7.

3: Sleep Disorders Research (National Institutes of Health). J Am Coll Cardiol. 2008;52(8):686-717.

4: Fernando De Torres-Alba, Daniele Gemma, Eduardo Armada-Romero, Juan Ramón Rey-Blas, Esteban López-de-Sá, and José Luis López-Sendon. Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Coronary Artery Disease: From Pathophysiology to Clinical Implication. Pulmonary Medicine (2013).

5: Oldenburg, O., et al., Sleep-disordered breathing in patients with symptomatic heart failure: a contemporary study of prevalence in and characteristics of 700 patients. Eur J Heart Fail, 2007. 9(3): p. 251-7.

6: Bassetti C, Aldrich MS. Sleep Apnoea in Acute Cerebrovascular Diseases: Final Report on 128

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