Sleep Apnea and Heart Failure
This post was originally posted on August 13, 2013, and updated on March 4, 2022.
The majority of OSA patients that have been diagnosed and actually sought out sleep therapy treatment with a CPAP machine are fully aware of the potential life-threatening conditions associated with OSA such as high blood pressure, stroke, and heart failure. Unfortunately, only a fraction of these patients understand how these diseases of the heart are fundamentally linked to sleep apnea.
The reality is that ongoing research is showing a definitive link between heart failure and both types of sleep apnea – Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) and the more rare Central Sleep Apnea (CSA). OSA is characterized by the relaxation of throat muscles in the back of the throat that momentarily cutts off breathing. CSA, a more dangerous condition, is the result of the brain’s failure to transmit signals to breathing muscles. An important similarity between OSA and CSA is that they both lower necessary blood oxygen levels to dangerously low levels.
When the body’s oxygen level drops, carbon dioxide levels increase. The result triggers the body’s so called “fight-or-flight” reflex whereby your brain tells your body to release adrenaline-like substances into the bloodstream. This in turn increases blood pressure.
These dramatic swings in blood pressure not only begin damaging the body’s blood vessel linings, but can also increase the mass of the heart, thicken the heart walls, and reduce pumping action. This ongoing stress to the heart will eventually lead to increased risk of heart failure and other cardiovascular problems.
Current statistics show that more than 50 percent of heart failure patients also suffer from sleep apnea. Still, the link between the two conditions runs deeper. While both disorders increase oxidative stress and inflammation, heart failure patients without sleep apnea also have sleep difficulties. Those suffering from either condition also share daytime symptoms such as daytime sleepiness and lack of energy.
Impact of CPAP Therapy
The good news is that studies have shown that CPAP therapy via the use of a CPAP machine can have a profound impact on lowering the risk of heart failure and other cardiovascular conditions. The medical community is beginning to respond to the current research which shows the many connections between sleep apnea and heart failure as sleep apnea can often go undiagnosed in heart failure patients.
There is no definitive way to know what percentage of undiagnosed sleep apnea patients are also heart failure patients. As the various cardiovascular and sleep apnea medical communities begin to find the common ground, more patients who suffer from both conditions can be helped via the use of a CPAP machine.
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The CPAP Shop has been selling CPAP machines, masks, and other products for over 15 years. For additional information on various topics concerning sleep apnea and CPAP products, please refer to our blog. It is constantly updated and offers free advice and information. To learn more about the quality sleep apnea products we carry, or if you have questions, call us at 866-414-9700. Additionally, you can contact us through our website. https://www.thecpapshop.com/contact-us.