What would you say if you learned that the two most common causes of death in the entire world, responsible jointly for fifteen million deaths worldwide every single year, are risk factors associated with the same health issue — and that your harmless-seeming snoring habit might indicate that you have it?
Hypertension Hurts… and Kills
Hypertension, known more casually as high blood pressure, carries with it some extraordinarily dangerous risks. While high blood pressure itself is not deadly, the effects it has on the body can be. And even when it’s not deadly, the impact it has on quality of life can’t be ignored.
For example, hypertension may lead to erectile dysfunction and decreased libido, and the medications used to treat it can trigger depression and anxiety in many patients. The increased calcium elimination that hypertension causes in the body can result in weaker bones, leading eventually to osteoporosis. And eye pressure increases as a result of blood pressure increase, which can lead to retinopathy and glaucoma, and ultimately loss of vision.
But while being blind or depressed may be terrible, being dead is worse — and hypertension can lead to that, too. High blood pressure can damage the kidneys, whose job it is to filter your blood, causing damage or even blockage. Chronic kidney failure kills tens of thousands of people in the United States every year.
And of course, hypertension is tied to the top two killers in the world: Stroke and heart disease. High blood pressure means increased stress on your blood vessels and your heart. Those blood vessels are more likely to burst or clog under that kind of pressure, and your likelihood of heart failure skyrockets.
But What About the Snoring?
You may be thinking, “okay, hypertension kills… but what does snoring have to do with it?” Unfortunately, the two are more closely linked that most people think.
Snoring is a red flag symptoms of sleep apnea, a sleep disorder in which the sufferers stops breathing briefly while sleeping, often hundreds of times in one night. This disorder can show itself with daytime symptoms too, like fatigue, trouble focusing, or waking up with a headache. But while these symptoms can certainly be unpleasant in day-to-day life, they’re nothing compared to the hidden dangers of sleep apnea.
While medical researchers are still trying to pin down the precise relationship between sleep apnea and hypertension, the fact that they are linked is not being questioned. When you stop breathing overnight, your body sends out the emergency squad: Nerve impulses designed to increase blood flow to the heart and brain to ensure that they get oxygen as a top priority. Even after sleep apnea sufferers wake up and their breathing returns to normal, that increased blood pressure remains.
Snoring may be the subject of sitcom laughs, but it’s also a hallmark symptom of a potentially deadly sleep disorder. If you think you may suffer from sleep apnea, you should talk to an experienced sleep dentist. Call (803) 781-9090 or contact us online to make an appointment today and learn more.