Snoring May Be More Dangerous To Your Arteries Than Obesity, Smoking Or High Cholesterol

The Risks Of Snoring Are Far Greater Than Your Spouse Threatening To Leave You: Study Shows Heightened Risk Of Artery Damage

We like to think of snoring as a joke, a silly thing that old grandpa does when he falls asleep in front of the football game on the couch after Thanksgiving dinner.

But the truth of the matter is that snoring can pose a significant health risk if left unattended. In fact it can mean that a person’s arterial health is at higher risk than someone who is overweight, a smoker, or even those with high cholesterol

A recent study demonstrates that snoring can put a person at risk for thickening or abnormalities in the carotid artery, the pipeline supplying oxygenated blood to the brain. Such a condition is known to be a precursor to arteriosclerosis, the hardening of the arteries that is at the root of many vascular diseases and conditions.

“Snoring is more than a bedtime annoyance and it shouldn’t be ignored. 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,” said the study’s lead author Robert Deeb, M.D. “Our study adds to the growing body of evidence suggesting that isolated snoring may not be as benign as first suspected. So instead of kicking your snoring bed partner out of the room or spending sleepless nights elbowing him or her, seek out medical treatment for the snorer.”

The study’s results extend even to those who don’t suffer from sleep apnea, a condition in which a person sleeping has pauses in their breathing or moments of shallow breathing during sleep. It yielded results that show changes that occur in the carotid artery with snorers, likely due to the trauma and subsequent inflammation caused by the vibrations created by the snoring.

And while sleep apnea has long been associated with cardiovascular disease, as well as a host of other serious health issues, the risk for cardiovascular disease may in fact begin with snoring, well before it develops into sleep apnea.

The study looked at nearly a thousand patients at the Henry Ford hospital in Detroit, who had been patients at the institution’s sleep center. By measuring the “intima-media” thickness of the carotid artery, a measure of the thickness of the two innermost layers of the arterial wall, researchers are able to detect and track arteriosclerotic disease.

Snorers were found to have significantly intimi-media thickness than non-snorers. Additionally, there was no statistically significant difference between the thickness measure of snorers and those with traditional risk factors for cardiovascular disease, like smokers, diabetics, hypertensives, and so forth.

“Snoring is generally regarded as a cosmetic issue by health insurance, requiring significant out-of-pocket expenses by patients,” said Dr. Deeb. “We’re hoping to change that thinking so patients can get the early treatment they need, before more serious health issues arise.”

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