The ABCs of Sleep Apnea: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

Snore,problem,concept.,illustration,of,obstructive,sleep,apneaThe ABCs of Sleep Apnea: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that affects millions of people globally. It is a condition characterized by interruptions in breathing during sleep, leading to poor quality sleep and a host of health problems. Sleep apnea can be of two types – obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and central sleep apnea (CSA). OSA is more common, and it occurs when the muscles at the back of the throat fail to keep the airway open, causing breathing to stop temporarily. CSA, on the other hand, occurs when the brain fails to send the right signals to the muscles responsible for breathing. In this blog post, we will explore the causes, symptoms, and treatments of sleep apnea.

Causes of Sleep Apnea:

Several factors can increase the risk of developing sleep apnea, including:

1. Obesity: Excessive weight is one of the most prevalent risk factors for sleep apnea. The extra fat around the neck can put pressure on the airway, causing it to narrow.

2. Age: Sleep apnea is more common in middle-aged and older adults.

3. Alcohol and sedatives: The intake of sedatives and alcohol can relax the throat muscles, causing the airway to narrow and potentially resulting in disrupted breathing during sleep.

4. Smoking: Smoking irritates the airways and increases inflammation, leading to airflow obstruction.

5. Genetics: Family history of sleep apnea can increase the risk of developing the condition.

Symptoms of Sleep Apnea:

The symptoms of sleep apnea can vary depending on the severity of the condition. Common symptoms of sleep apnea include:

1. Loud and persistent snoring

2. Choking or gasping during sleep

3. Pauses in breathing while sleeping

4. Restless sleep

5. Sleepiness during waking hours

6. Difficulty concentrating, memory problems, and difficulty staying awake during daytime

7. Headaches, particularly in the morning

8. Dry mouth or sore throat upon waking up

9. Insomnia

10. Irritability, depression, and mood swings.

It is essential to see a healthcare professional promptly should you find yourself exhibiting any of the above symptoms.

Treatments for Sleep Apnea:

There are various treatment options for sleep apnea. An appropriate treatment prescribed will depend on the cause, severity, and frequency of the sleep apnea episodes occurring. Let us explore the different treatment options.

1. Lifestyle changes: Making lifestyle changes can help alleviate symptoms of sleep apnea. This includes losing weight, abstaining from alcohol and sedatives, sleeping on your side, and treating allergies or nasal congestion.

2. Continuous Positive Airway Pressure therapy (CPAP): CPAP is the most common treatment for sleep apnea. The therapy involves wearing a mask over the nose and/or mouth while sleeping. The mask is connected to a machine that provides continuous pressurized air, keeping the airway open during sleep.

3. Bi-level Positive Airway Pressure therapy (BiPAP): BiPAP is similar to CPAP in that it delivers pressurized air to keep the airway open during sleep. However, the BiPAP machine adjusts the pressure during each breath, providing more pressure during inhalation and less during exhalation.

4. Oral appliances: Oral appliances are custom-fitted devices that are worn in the mouth during sleep. They help keep the airway open by repositioning the jaw, tongue, and soft palate.

5. Surgery: Surgery to treat sleep apnea is typically reserved for severe cases that do not respond to other treatments. Surgical procedures may include removing excess tissue from the throat, reconstruction of the jawbone, or implanting a device that stimulates the airway muscles.

Final Thoughts

Sleep apnea is a highly prevalent sleep disorder that greatly affects an individual’s quality of life if left untreated. It is vital to seek medical advice from a board-certified cardiologist when you exhibit symptoms of sleep apnea. Depending on the cause, severity, and frequency of sleep apnea, treatment options can range from lifestyle changes to surgical procedures. Lifestyle changes such as weight loss, abstaining from alcohol or sedatives, and sleeping on your side can alleviate symptoms of sleep apnea. However, moderate to severe cases of sleep apnea require more intensive medical intervention, such as CPAP/BiPAP therapy, oral appliances, and possibly, surgery. Therefore, with sleep apnea, early detection and appropriate treatment can considerably improve affected individuals’ quality of life in the long run.

The Relationship Between Your Heart And Your Sleep Schedule

Wearable,sleep,tracking,heart,rate,monitor,smartwatch,in,bedThe Relationship Between Your Heart and Your Sleep Schedule

Just as diet and exercise are important components to heart health, sleep is too. But it’s often overlooked by people. Sleep helps regulate your body’s internal clock and hormone balance, says Dr. Lawrence Epstein, associate physician at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Consistent sleep may even help reduce the risk of atherosclerosis, a buildup of fatty plaque in your arteries that can lead to cardiovascular disease.

What Are Some Health Conditions Linked To Lack Of Sleep?

There are many health conditions that can be linked to lack of sleep, such as high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, and depression. It’s also associated with more heart attacks and other cardiovascular events. People with obstructive sleep apnea, for example, stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, which increases their risk of high blood pressure and other serious health problems. The same is true for narcolepsy, which causes the brain to struggle to control sleep and wake cycles. In addition, research shows that even mild sleep problems can boost inflammation, which increases your risk for heart disease. Sleep apnea is another common problem that can hurt your heart health. It causes the airway to slack during sleep, causing you to stop breathing repeatedly, often hundreds of times during sleep. These lapses in breath raise your body’s levels of stress hormones, which can certainly lead to heart problems. The good news is that you can often take various steps to improve your sleep and reduce your risk of developing health conditions that may hurt your heart.

Healthy,lifestyle,reminders, ,handwriting,on,a,set,of,colorfulHow Much Sleep Do I Need?

The amount of sleep you need can vary from person to person. It depends on age, gender, lifestyle, and other factors. Getting enough sleep helps your body rest, repair, and replenish energy levels. It also regulates hormones that affect blood pressure and cholesterol levels. In general, adults should aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night. Some people need more or less than that, but this guideline is a good rule of thumb.

What Can I Do To Get Better Sleep?

Getting enough sleep is essential for good health. But how you get it is also important. A consistent sleep schedule is a great way to get started as it will help you fall asleep and wake up at the same time every day – even on the weekends. Similarly, exercise is another excellent means to improve your sleep, especially when it’s done consistently. Not only can it help you fall asleep quicker, but it’ll also make you feel more refreshed and even increase your overall energy level. The best time to exercise is the time that works for you, whether that’s in the morning or late afternoon. However, exercising too close to bedtime may negatively impact your sleep schedule, so just make sure your routine ends more than an hour before bedtime.

Red,alarm,clock,and,heart,shape,on,white,bed,sheetContact Us

Here at Heart & Sleep Clinics of America, we help people recognize heart disease symptoms in addition to offering heart disease recovery and prevention services. Our expert team of heart and sleep specialists are available help you overcome any obstacles that are keeping you from sleeping well and enjoying your life again. If you or someone you love have been diagnosed with any of the symptoms we talked about, contact us today to schedule your consultation.

The Accuracy Of Home Sleep Apnea Tests


Home sleep apnea tests work by attaching sensors to your body that measure a variety of variables, including your heart rate, blood oxygen levels, airflow and breathing patterns. These measurements can help your doctor diagnose obstructive sleep apnea and recommend treatment options. To ensure that your home sleep apnea test is successful, plan out the test day in advance so that it is easy for the device to stay in place. Avoid drinking alcohol or taking caffeine close to the time of your test and keep your hair and body products free from sprays, gels, and makeup.

The number of sensors and types of measurements vary between home sleep apnea tests. The most accurate test uses at least three sensors that provide a comprehensive picture of your sleeping habits. These measurements can help your doctor diagnose obstructive sleep apnea and recommend treatment options. However, since some home tests are less accurate, particularly those that only measure a few key variables, they are not as accurate as in-clinic observed tests. In such cases, your doctor may recommend an in-lab study for a more accurate diagnosis of sleep apnea.

Before you can take an at-home test, your doctor must determine if it’s the right option for you. They may also want to discuss your medical history and other potential sleep disorders that are not caused by obstructive sleep apnea. Typically, doctors order an at-home test when they suspect moderate to severe OSA in patients without other medical conditions. Overall, home sleep apnea tests are an excellent choice for people who don’t have access to or can’t afford a lab-based sleep study as they are typically less expensive than polysomnography and can sometimes be covered by health insurance.

Sleep Apnea – Causes And Symptoms

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type of sleep apnea and is caused by an obstruction in your airway. These blockages can occur when the muscles of your throat relax too much or when tissues in the back of your throat collapse. People with obstructive sleep apnea may stop breathing repeatedly during the night and snore loudly while sleeping. These episodes of breathing temporarily lower oxygen levels in the body and cause daytime drowsiness, restless sleep, and a feeling of choking or gasping during wakefulness.

Central Sleep Apnea

Central sleep apnea (CSA) is an uncommon sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep. It can occur in both adults as well as children. Everyone breathes during sleep, but CSA happens when the part of your brain that controls breathing isn’t sending the right signals to your breathing muscles. These pauses in breathing cause oxygen levels in your body to decrease. When central sleep apnea happens too often, or for too long, the drops in blood oxygen level can damage your brain cells. This can be serious or even life-threatening. CSA also increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. Sudden, repeated episodes of low blood oxygen can worsen heart problems, especially if you have underlying heart disease or high cholesterol. Symptoms of central sleep apnea include snoring and abnormal breathing patterns during sleep. Typically, these symptoms go unnoticed or are only noticed by your partner or caregiver.

Complex Sleep Apnea

Complex sleep apnea is a more severe form of central sleep apnea (CSA) in which patients experience repeated apnea events even when using positive airway pressure therapy (CPAP or an oral appliance). These apnea events can often be caused by underlying medical conditions and medications. There are treatment options that can help people feel better and improve their quality of life. It usually involves addressing the underlying causes of the abnormal breathing while offering treatments to support normal breathing. These include positive airway pressure, supplemental oxygen, medications, and nerve stimulation.

The Different Types of Sleep Apnea

What is it called when your heart stops while sleeping? This condition is known as sleep apnea. There are multiple types of sleep apnea, with the most common being obstructive sleep apnea or OSA. Becoming educated on the various types of sleep apnea can help you determine which type you have, the causes, the symptoms, and the best treatment options.

Connection Between Sleep Apnea & Heart Disease

Various studies have found that obesity can play a role in the development of heart disease and sleep apnea. But, having sleep apnea whether a person is obese or not, will still increase their chances of developing heart disease.

Sleep apnea has damaging effects on the cardiovascular system. This is due to the constant pauses in a person’s breathing that can put stress on the heart. For example, every time a person pauses while breathing, the level of oxygen in their blood also drops. This can activate the sympathetic nervous system.

Furthermore, when a person with OSA or obstructive sleep apnea tries to breathe, they begin to breathe in via closed or narrowed upper airways. This can put significant pressure on the chest cavity, which can then damage the heart. Constant changes in intrathoracic pressure can cause damage to the heart and result in atrial fibrillation, heart failure, and even issues with the way blood flows to the heart.

Finally, repetitive changes in a person’s oxygen levels can put a lot of stress on the body.  This is known as oxidative stress and can eventually lead to heart disease because it can encourage systemic inflammation.

Types of Sleep Apnea

What are the warning signs of sleep apnea? If you snore loud enough that it causes a disturbance to the person sleeping next to you, or you wake up gasping for air, you could have sleep apnea. Another warning sign is pausing in your breathing while you are sleeping. Let us read about some of the various types of sleep apnea.

OSA- Obstructive Sleep Apnea

OSA is the most familiar type of sleep apnea and happens when there is a blockage within the throat and mouth. For instance, the tongue may rest against the soft palate while a person is sleeping. The soft palate and uvula can rest against a person’s throat, making it harder to breathe.

Central Sleep Apnea

Central sleep apnea also makes it difficult for a person to breathe, but it isn’t caused by a blockage within the upper airways. The cause of central sleep apnea is neurological. People with central sleep apnea do not snore. Instead, you may notice symptoms such as insomnia, trouble concentrating, and waking up feeling panicky or with shortness of breath.

Complex Sleep Apnea Syndrome

A person can have more than one type of sleep apnea. Complex sleep apnea syndrome is a combination of central and OSA sleep apnea. Sometimes, complex sleep apnea is evident following a sleep study. But, it is also possible that sleep apnea may not improve even after the use of a CPAP machine.