My husband seldom complains about anything. So, when he started protesting that he couldn’t sleep because I snore, I was shocked. I thought, me? I’m relatively young. I’m not overweight. I’m female. I feel like I sleep pretty well.
As I studied snoring, a sleeping disorder in the medical literature, I realized how common it is. And, how dangerous it can be. I read the below Forbes article on health risks associated with snoring. As my awareness grew, I thought “I can make a difference for my patients.” I discovered, in fact, dentists can provide treatment for this disorder. I set out to learn how to tackle the problem for myself and my patients.
I’m still on my journey to improving my own sleep health. If sleeping well is a challenge for you, please talk to me about it. Hopefully, my own experiences can benefit you and help you sleep better every night. – Dr. Ybee
Do you or your bed partner snore? If so, read up. It turns out that what seems like an annoyance is actually an alarm bell.
New research conducted by otolaryngologists at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit finds that snoring is a bigger risk factor for stroke and heart attack than smoking, being overweight, or high cholesterol.
The study which has been submitted to the journal The Laryngoscope, will be presented in Scottsdale, Arizona on Friday at the 2013 Combined Sections Meeting of the Triological Society.
The researchers looked at the carotid arteries in snorers and found increased thickening of the artery walls, indicating damage already setting in. The researchers suggested that the damage could be due to the trauma and inflammation caused by the vibrations of snoring. However, previous research on the connection between sleep apnea and artery disease has found a reverse connection – the arterial damage comes first, lowering the amount of oxygen in the blood, leading to breathing interruptions. It could be that thickening of the arteries is contributing to the snoring as well, not just the other way around.
One more thing to pay attention to: The patients in the Henry Ford study were all between the ages of 18 and 50.
Deeb, the study’s lead author, hopes his research will lead people to treat snoring as a reason to visit the doctor and discuss cardiovascular health and stroke prevention. And he hopes doctors will now add snoring to the list of risk factors – which currently includes high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and family history – they use to initiate testing and treatment.
“Our study adds to the growing body of evidence suggesting that isolated snoring may not be as benign as first suspected,” Deeb said in a statement. “Patients need to seek treatment in the same way they would if they had sleep apnea, high blood pressure or other risk factors for cardiovascular disease.”
While obstructive sleep apnea (which often develops from snoring) has long been known as an indicator of cardiovascular disease, there’s been little evidence up to now to show the damage starts earlier with snoring.
While Deeb and Yaremchuk studied the carotid artery, thickening of one type of artery is considered an indication of atherosclerosis in general. Hence the conclusion that snoring is also a tip-off to coronary artery disease, or CAD.
Artery disease of all types, also known as “hardening of the arteries” or officially as atherosclerosis, occurs when waxy plaque begins to line the inner walls of arteries. Over time, the artery walls thicken and stiffen, restricting blood flow to the heart or brain. Coronary artery disease, or CAD, receives the most public attention because it’s a precursor to heart attack, stroke, and heart failure.
Deeb and Yaremchuk’s research has serious practical applications because heart disease, particularly artery blockage, is so often detected only after significant permanent damage has been done. Paying attention to snoring as a risk factor could lead doctors to order tests sooner and help people get earlier diagnosis – and treatment – of carotid and coronary artery disease.
Here’s a list of the typical risk factors for artery disease:
Hypertension (high blood pressure) – the most important treatable risk factor for stroke
Abnormal lipids or high cholesterol
Diet high in saturated fats
Family history of atherosclerosis, either coronary artery disease or carotid artery disease
Again, note that according to the study, snoring turned out to pose a greater risk than smoking, being overweight, and having high cholesterol, so it would be added towards the top of the list.
If you or someone you know are not benefiting from a good night’s sleep, ask us how we can help. A dentist can see signs in a person’s mouth that indicates they don’t sleep well (show images of clinical signs of sleep disorders attached.) Poor sleep health or fragmented sleep puts a person’s overall health at risk. Studies show that chronic sleep deprivation can lead to Alzheimer’s Disease, Strokes, and Cardiovascular Disease. The National Sleep Foundation and the National Institute of Health are asking dentists to help in screening and early detection of patients who may be suffering from a sleep disorder. Dentist can refer patients for a sleep study, called a Polysomnography (PSG) and a sleep physician for diagnosis. There are therapies for sleep disorders in which a dentist can provide.
Call us today and tell us you’d like to “SLEEP BETTER TONIGHT” and we’ll know you would like to take advantage of our FREE Sleep Health Exam. We’ll waive the fee of $145.