Sleep apnea has been linked to many potential health issues, one of which is high blood pressure. And while these two conditions are dangerous on their own, things can get even more dangerous for those who suffer from both conditions.
Learning how these conditions are connected can help you understand health issues that can result and how to seek effective treatment. This article will explain these common health conditions, explore how sleep apnea can lead to high blood pressure, discuss possible treatment options, and identify when you should seek medical assistance.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is one of the most common sleep disorders. Sleep apnea causes you to stop breathing while you sleep. When this happens, your brain wakes you up enough to start breathing again. While you may not realize this is happening, these pauses in breathing can occur hundreds of times throughout the night and can prevent a restful night’s sleep.
The primary symptoms of sleep apnea are snoring and feeling drowsy even after a full night’s sleep. The two kinds of sleep apnea are:
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is the most common of the two types and occurs when the muscles in the throat relax while you sleep, causing a brief pause in breathing. T
- Central Sleep Apnea (CSA) occurs when there is a miscommunication between your brain and the muscles that control your breathing, leading to pauses in breathing.
What is High Blood Pressure?
Blood pressure is the force created when your blood pushes against the walls of your arteries. When this force is too strong, high blood pressure is the result. When this happens, your heart has to work harder and cannot function optimally.
- Heart attacks
- Vision loss
- Cardiovascular disease
- Kidney disease or failure
- Atrial fibrillation
How Sleep Apnea Leads to High Blood Pressure
The blocked airways in OSA can cause an increase in blood pressure because your heart has to work harder to get oxygenated blood throughout your body. Sleep apnea signals the brain to pump more blood to the heart and brain, adding to the pressure on your artery walls, raising your blood pressure.
When your airways are blocked, your body releases adrenaline to signal your brain to open the throat and let in air. Unfortunately, when this happens, your heart rate and blood pressure increase. The more frequently these blockages happen, the more adrenaline will be released, and the harder it is to control your blood pressure while you sleep.
Treatment Options for Sleep Apnea and High Blood Pressure
CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) therapy is the go-to treatment option for OSA. A CPAP machine delivers a steady, pressurized stream of air through your mouth and nose while you sleep, keeping your airways open and preventing pauses in breathing.
CPAP therapy can also slightly lower your blood pressure during the day. However, remember that it may not lower it enough, so additional treatments may be necessary. Your doctor may prescribe medications to treat your blood pressure, such as:
- ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme) inhibitors
- ARBs (angiotensin II receptor blockers)
- Calcium channel blockers
Lifestyle changes can be effective in lowering high blood pressure and helping sleep apnea. Some of these changes may include:
- Regular exercise
- Eating a healthy diet
- Keeping a healthy weight
- Stop smoking
When to Talk to a Doctor
If you have any concerns about sleep apnea or high blood pressure, talking to your doctor as soon as possible is essential. There are rarely visible symptoms of high blood pressure, so having your blood pressure checked at least monthly can help identify if there is a problem.
If you have high blood pressure and are worried about having sleep apnea, let your doctor know if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Irregular breathing while sleeping
- Gasping or choking while sleeping
- Loud snoring
- Excessive daytime drowsiness
- Headaches in the morning
- Dry mouth or sore throat when waking
Turn to DreamZz Sleep Center to Determine if Sleep Apnea is Affecting Your Blood Pressure
While sleep apnea and high blood pressure are two distinct conditions, research continues to show how the two are linked and the significant consequences those who suffer from both conditions face. The good news is that treating one condition can also treat the other, so if you are experiencing symptoms, talk to your doctor and get on track to getting the treatment you need.
At DreamZz Sleep Center, we know how important sleep is to your overall health and well-being. That’s why we guarantee a consultation and sleep study within one to two weeks of your initial call. That means your treatment can start in less than a month! Our physician is fellowship-trained, Sleep Medicine board-certified, and will analyze your symptoms and develop a treatment plan to help you get the sleep you deserve.
Contact us today for a consultation.