Coronary artery disease is a buildup of plaque in the arteries that supply blood to your heart. It’s the
Sleep apnea is a condition where your breathing starts and stops repeatedly throughout the night. It’s associated with
Researchers estimate 24 million people in the United States have obstructive sleep apnea but haven’t been diagnosed. Without proper treatment, sleep apnea can cause a
Read on to learn more about what’s known about the connection between sleep apnea and coronary artery disease.
Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder. It’s characterized by the repeated stopping of your breath while sleeping. Pauses in your breathing may occur
The most common type of sleep apnea is called obstructive sleep apnea. It occurs when the muscles in your throat relax, and your tongue and soft palate block your throat while sleeping.
Researchers estimate obstructive sleep apnea affects
Central sleep apnea is less common. It occurs when your brain doesn’t send signals to the muscles that control your breathing while you’re sleeping. It’s been estimated to affect
Some people also have mixed sleep apnea, or a combination of both types.
Symptoms of sleep apnea can include:
Obstructive sleep apnea has been
- high blood pressure
- heart failure
- coronary artery disease
- arterial fibrillation
Stoppages in your breathing can lead to repetitive low oxygen levels in your blood, which may result in oxidative stress and inflammation throughout your body. Over time, this stress and inflammation can contribute to the development of plaque buildup in the arteries of your heart, which can lead to a heart attack.
Sleep apnea may lead to the development of coronary artery disease by contributing to calcium buildup and plaque instability in the arteries of your heart.
Untreated sleep apnea increases the risk of developing many types of cardiovascular disease, such as:
- heart failure
- heart attack
The risk of cardiovascular complications generally increases with the severity of sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea can also raise the risk of developing other issues, such as:
- metabolic syndrome
- excessive daytime sleepiness
- increased risk of traffic accidents
- increased risk of workplace errors
Researchers have also found
- high blood pressure
- type 2 diabetes
- surgical complications
- early death
Your doctor can help you build a treatment plan for your sleep apnea. The treatment your doctor recommends depends on factors such as the underlying cause of your sleep apnea and your current lifestyle habits.
Your doctor might suggest:
- Weight management: If you have overweight or obesity, your doctor may recommend losing weight.
- Certain lifestyle habits: Your doctor may recommend certain lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, limiting alcohol, or switching to sleeping on your side.
- Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP): CPAP is often the first treatment for obstructive sleep apnea. It involves wearing a face mask that delivers air with positive pressure to keep your airways open while you sleep.
- Bilevel airway pressure (BiPAP): BiPAP is sometimes used as an alternative to CPAP. BiPAP machines deliver air at two pressure levels in response to your breathing to help support your airways.
- Surgery: Surgery is usually only recommended when less invasive treatments aren’t effective. Surgery involves changing the part of your body that’s causing the obstruction.
Here are some frequently asked questions people have about the connection between sleep apnea and coronary artery disease.
Can sleep apnea cause heart damage?
Frequent breathing pauses while sleeping can cause stress that promotes inflammation. This inflammation can contribute to the
Does sleep apnea cause plaque in arteries?
Plaque is the buildup of cholesterol, fat, and other substances inside your arteries.
Can sleep apnea worsen cardiac problems?
Yes. Sleep apnea
A substantial amount of research shows that people with sleep apnea have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. People with sleep apnea also tend to have poorer outcomes with cardiovascular disease than people in the general population.
Seeking treatment for sleep apnea may help you lower your risk of developing cardiovascular disease and other complications.
Your doctor can help you develop a plan to manage your sleep apnea. Your plan may include a combination of lifestyle changes and positive airway pressure therapy, depending on the underlying cause.