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Snoring and Health Risks: A Wake-Up Call

If you have sleep apnea or you snore, here are five conditions linked to snoring and sleep apnea you should know about:

Heart Disease

Sleep apnea is linked to cardiovascular problems, such as high blood pressure and coronary artery disease, eventually leading to possible heart attacks. And data suggest that people with sleep apnea are twice as likely to have both nonfatal heart disease events and fatal heart attacks. Treating sleep apnea with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is a proven method of reducing your risk of heart disease.


The intensity of snoring is related to the risk of carotid atherosclerosis – the narrowing of the arteries in the neck due to fatty deposits called plaque – and as a result, stroke. In short, the louder and longer you snore each night, the greater your long-term risk for a stroke. If you experience daytime sleepiness or if your breathing stops in your sleep (both signs of sleep apnea), contact your physician.


Long-term snoring or sleep apnea put you at risk for developing an irregular heart rhythm, or arrhythmia. In fact, people with sleep apnea are more likely to have episodes of atrial fibrillation, the most common type of arrhythmia, than people without it or people whose apnea is treated with CPAP.


In people who are habitual snorers, researchers found a connection between frequent morning headaches and sleep disorders including insomnia and sleep apnea. Not surprisingly, snorers with frequent headaches reported a lower quality of life than those who do not experience sleep-related headaches.

Excess Weight

Being overweight and having sleep apnea oftentimes go hand in hand. This is partly because of the extra weight that gathers around the neck, making it harder to breathe at night. Of course, losing weight improves sleep disorder symptoms, so if you're overweight, talk to your doctor about a referral to a sleep specialist.

Occasional snoring is usually not very serious. However, if you are a habitual snorer, you not only disrupt the sleep patterns of those close to you, but you also impair your own sleep quality. Treatment will get you (and your family) back to sleep.

This article first appeared in the April 2015 edition of the HealthPerks newsletter.

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