What Is the Relationship Between Sleep Apnea and Heart Disease?
People with cardiovascular issues such as high blood pressure, heart failure and stroke have a higher chance of sleep apnea than those without the conditions. Whether sleep apnea specifically causes heart disease is still unclear, but doctors know that if you have sleep apnea, the chance you will develop hypertension in the future increases significantly. If you treat people with high blood pressure and sleep apnea, or heart failure and sleep apnea, the measures of blood pressure or heart failure are significantly improved.
Given the fact that cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, February's Heart Health Month might be the perfect start to making permanent heart health changes for the good of your continued well-being and happiness through life with sleep apnea.
Four Simple Ways to Improve Heart Health
Make Heart Health Month the month that changes it all for the better. Try out some of the following four ways to improve your heart health:
1. Add a Dash of Fitness to Your Schedule
No matter how tired or achy your body feels try to get into a fitness routine. You can approach fitness as simply as you need to in order to start your program. Hit the treadmill or the pavement to walk 30 minutes five days a week, follow a gentle yoga DVD, or attend a water aerobics class. Just get started, and you can build on your program as you need or want to.
2. Sleep at Least Seven Hours Each Night
One significant early sign of heart disease is the presence of coronary artery calcium. In one study, sleepers who slept at least seven hours a night had 50 percent less calcium than sleepers who slept five hours or less, and 70 percent less calcium than those who slept nine hours or more. Another sleep issue that can cause heart disease is sleep apnea. If you notice that you never feel quite rested or have been told that you snore, check with your physician to see if this can be related to sleep apnea. Your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes and the use of an assistive sleep mouthpiece called a CPAP, which stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. Your physician can explain this machine's use and how to care for it so you can get better sleep.
3. Tweak Your Diet
A few dietary adjustments will go a long way. If you love salt, try to reduce your intake. Try adding more whole foods like nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables in place of processed foods. Also, be sure to eat foods that include healthy fats, which include saturated, polyunsaturated, and unsaturated. Leave trans fats off the list since they lead to an increased risk for heart disease.
4. Treat Yourself Right
You need joy in your life, which includes everything from moderate amounts of dark chocolate—laden with antioxidants—to listening to your favorite music and singing along. A life filled with endless stress, worry, and unhappiness is dangerous to much more than your heart health, so turn up the car stereo on your way to work, get a pet, take a new class, or anything that feels like a healthy and uplifting treat.
Approach Your Health Improvement Project with the Passion It Deserves All Year Long
It may seem like a lot of time, energy, and effort to the necessary take steps to improve your heart health, but it's worth it to add time and quality to your life. Start with one or two tips at a time until they feel comfortable then add more healthy habits. Soon enough, you will reap the rewards you want and ones you might not have expected. Work toward finding the balance you need to turn Heart Health Month into Heart Health Life.