Snoring is making the News everywhere as a growing problem

New figures published from research undertaken in Western Australia this week made the headlines on Channel 7 News, where it was announced that 70% of Australian men, and a growing number of women, now snore. The link between snoring and heart problems was strongly underlined. The coverage recommended various lifestyle improvements but emphasised first of all that a stop snoring mouthpiece is the key item that is needed to prevent this danger – because as they rightly say – Snoring Kills if it is ignored.

snoring and heart disease

According to NHS statistics published in the BBC publication The Radio Times this week, a quarter of the UK population snore but it is more prevalent in those aged 40-60, and twice as many men snore than women. Snoring noise is made by the soft palate and tissue in the mouth, nose or throat vibrating, and can disrupt quality sleep for both snorers and their bedfellows.

When breathing is partially obstructed in this way, snoring is the harsh sound that is created during sleep. It is a common condition that can affect any age group and could possibly be a sign of a more serious condition that’s causing it such as sleep apnoea.

The major outward signs of a snoring problem include drowsiness, irritability and a lack of focus. You should take immediate action if snoring is accompanied by symptoms of sleep apnoea such as daytime sleepiness, morning headaches or chest pain at night.

Untreated snoring caused by sleep apnoea can lead to greater risk of high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and liver problems, and recently, it was found that the vibrations caused by snoring damaged the carotid artery. This leads to heart attacks or stroke.

Mild snoring can be curbed with some simple habitual and lifestyle changes, although these obviously take time – particularly weight loss. There are lots of health benefits to keeping your weight in check, and combatting snoring is one of them. Excess weight around your neck can restrict your airwaves while sleeping, making you more prone to snore. However heavier snoring and sleep apnoea are very much a medical problem if left untreated.

Reuters also newly report that people who have had a procedure to open blocked heart arteries, untreated sleep-breathing problems like snoring or apnoea may raise the risk of a future heart attack or stroke, researchers say.

Patients who had artery-clearing procedures after experiencing chest pain or a heart attack were more than twice as likely to have heart failure, a heart attack or a stroke in the next five years if they also had any sleep-based breathing problems.

Intermittent low-oxygen periods during sleep may increase stress or activate inflammatory responses that damage the heart, said lead author Dr. Toru Mazaki of the department of cardiology at Kobe Central Hospital in Japan.

Sleep-disordered breathing has been associated with cardiovascular risks and symptoms like high blood pressure, elevated glucose and abnormal heart rhythms, said Dr. Nieca Goldberg of NYU Langone Medical Center in New York, who is also a spokesperson for the American Heart Association and was commenting on their behalf as he was not part of the new study.

It goes without saying that patients who are not sleeping well often become depressed. No one wants to spend their nights looking at the ceiling, or tossing and turning, trying to find a comfortable position in which to sleep. Patients with sleep apnoea often experience depression related to both their symptoms and the severity of their disease. Control of apnoea not only leads to improvement in physical health but can improve depression according to a new report. In a further Australian study Patients were screened for depression using the Public Health Questionnaire.

It’s important that we listen to the experts and take the right steps to preserve our health, so wearing a simple mouthpiece at night, and making a few lifestyle changes, will go a long way to making a remarkable difference to both life quality and longevity.

John Redfern