Sleep Apnea Linked to Heart Disease

This content was created by the National Sleep Foundation

A new study found that obstructive sleep apnea is linked to an increased risk of heart failure and coronary heart disease in middle-aged and older men.

"Men with severe obstructive sleep apnea were 58 percent more likely to develop new congestive heart failure over eight years of follow up compared to men without sleep apnea," says Daniel Gottlieb, study author and associate professor at Boston University's School of Medicine. Researchers monitored 1,927 men and 2,495 women over 40 years of age.

All participants were free of coronary heart disease and heart failure at the start of the study. Study participants used polysomnograms as they slept to measure the presence and severity of sleep apnea as calibrated on the Apnea-Hypopnea Index (AHI). According to Dr. Daniel Gottlieb, associate professor of medicine, Boston University School of Medicine, "...there is a lot of undiagnosed sleep apnea, and that, at least in men; it is associated with the development of coronary heart disease and heart failure. Only about 10 percent of sleep apnea cases are diagnosed."

After adjustment for multiple risk factors, researchers found that obstructive sleep apnea was a significant predictor of incident coronary heart disease (myocardial infarction, revascularization procedure, or coronary heart disease death) in the men less than 70 years of age. Older men and women did not yield the same results.

According to the study, those men between 40 - 70 years old with an apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) greater than 30 were 68% more likely to develop coronary heart disease than those with a much lower AHI. According to CNN, Dr. Richard Stein cardiologist and spokesperson for the American Heart Association says weight loss through diet and exercise may help those battling the condition.

Dr. Stein added, "If you are obese, hypertensive or diabetic, if your partner in bed says you are snorting or snoring, if you're waking up un-rested, you should go to your doctor and ask if you have sleep apnea."