Do you find yourself snoring or waking up throughout the night? Are you fatigued throughout the day? Do you have high blood pressure? If the answer is yes to any of these questions, you may have a condition called sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is characterized by the repeated collapsing of one’s airway during their sleep. These pauses in breathing can occur 5-30 times or more per hour for up to a minute each time. This not only prevents restful sleep, but can also be associated with high blood pressure, arrhythmia, stroke, and heart failure.
Sleep apnea can affect the heart and blood pressure due to oxygen levels in the blood dropping when breathing stops. The body responds by releasing epinephrine, which is a stress hormone. When this stress hormone remains high, it can cause high blood pressure and heart failure, increase the risk for strokes and cause heart arrhythmia.
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