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Sleep Apnea and Heart Disease: Risks and Dangers

Kristen Havens


Getting enough sleep — at least six hours per night for adults — is critical to maintaining good health. If you chronically sleep too little or have your sleep constantly interrupted by apnea, you may be at a higher-than-average risk for a cluster of health problems: lower immunity, diabetes, obesity, depression and anxiety, memory issues, brain damage, or even fertility challenges.


Your heart is also in danger. If you have sleep apnea, you’re automatically in a higher risk category for cardiovascular disease, even if you’re otherwise healthy.

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Follow this CPAP therapy timeline to achieve success

Tamara Kaye Sellman, RPSGT, CCSH

For those starting continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy (or other types of PAP therapy) for the first time, there are lots of unknowns to consider. We try to take the fear of the unknown out of the process because we know that the better prepared and educated you are about your therapy, the more likely you will succeed in using it. And in doing so, you can conquer the risks and consequences associated with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

Here is a handy timeline to give you an idea what the next few weeks will look like as you begin to use your CPAP machine. It also shows you our commitment to providing you support, 24-7, at the beginning and throughout the lifespan of your therapy. Let's treat your OSA together!

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Should CPAP users worry if they lose power to their machines?

Kristen Havens

Winter is coming, and so is the weather that comes with it: high winds, heavy ran, snow, and ice, all of which can cause the power grid to go down during the night. Blackouts are an inconvenience for everyone, but they're particularly worrisome for people who rely on electricity to run their medical equipment.

CPAP users fall into this category. Without a steady source of power or a ready backup option (like a battery pack), your CPAP machine will stop running when the power goes out. You'll be getting by without treatment for your apnea until the grid comes back online. 

Similarly, if you're traveling and you don't have a reliable source of compatible electric current for your machine, you won't be able to comply with your therapy. (For example, if you're in a country with different outlets, or if you're camping or residing in a temporary shelter.)

No power to your CPAP machine means you'll be living with untreated apnea and snoring until electricity becomes available again. Anyone who's lived with obstructive sleep apnea knows what that means.

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What is bruxism and how does it impact sleep?

Kristen Havens

Bruxism is the act of clenching or grinding your teeth, either out of habit or unconsciously. Though some people grind their teeth unwittingly during the day, most tooth grinders engage in what's called nocturnal bruxism — nighttime tooth grinding or clenching that occurs during sleep. Doctors and dentists sometimes refer to these people as "bruxers."

If you are a nocturnal or sleep bruxer, your upper and lower teeth come clench together forcefully during the night — with a pressure of up to 700 pounds per square inch. (Normal daytime pressure, if you were to clench your teeth right now while reading this article, would be 200 pounds per square inch.) 

There are two forms of night bruxism: clenching and grinding.

  • If you clench your jaw without moving it around, the jaw remains clamped together forcefully for a sustained length of time.

  • If you grind, your lower jaw moves side-to-side while clenched, making a distinctly unpleasant squeaking sound that can send your sleep partner running from the room.
Both forms of bruxism can lead to side effects like headaches and dental damage.

All bruxism is classified as a parafunctional behavior, meaning it's a movement of the body that serves no purpose. Nocturnal bruxism is considered a movement disorder, and it's quite often associated with other sleep disorders like obstructive apnea and restless leg syndrome.

However, if you grind your teeth at least 2 to 4 times per hour, your bruxism may be diagnosed as a sleep disorder in and of itself. (A sleep study would be required to verify this.)

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Is vaping a better option than smoking at bedtime?

Kristen Havens

Many e-cigarette users enjoy the nighttime ritual of one last puff before bed. Before enjoying those flavored e-cigs, you may want to read up on vaping and what exactly it is you're inhaling. The sleep-stealing components of e-cigarette vapor may surprise you. 

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Can kids have sleep apnea? Yes! Know the signs, symptoms & causes

Tamara Kaye Sellman, RPSGT, CCSH

Sleep apnea has long been considered a medical concern for older people, but the reality is quite different. 

Children, from infancy to adolescence, can also suffer from sleep apnea.

According to American Family Physician, "Obstructive sleep-disordered breathing is common in children. From 3 percent to 12 percent of children snore, while obstructive sleep apnea syndrome affects 1 percent to 10 percent of children."

However, ignoring the signs and symptoms of underlying obstructive sleep apnea in children as a problem "they'll grow out of" is a mistake. (What is obstructive sleep apnea or OSA?)

While some children might be able to escape a lifetime of sleep breathing problems once they've finished growing and developing, many do not. Regardless, those who have sleep apnea still suffer many of the same discomforts of uncontrolled OSA that bedevil their older counterparts. 

Untreated sleep apnea threatens the overall health and well being of any child, leading to problems with behavior, obesity, chronic medical conditions like diabetes, depression, and much more.

Both parents and pediatricians need to be on the lookout for the signs, symptoms, and causes of childhood sleep apnea.  

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The high price of untreated sleep apnea

Tamara Kaye Sellman, RPSGT, CCSH

After insomnia, sleep apnea is the most common sleep disorder in the US, affecting nearly 20 million Americans.

As much as 10 percent of the entire US adult population suffers from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), the most common form of sleep apnea.

Anywhere between 40 and 80 percent of people with OSA may not even know they have it, or if they do have it, are not treating it. 

The risks of living with untreated sleep apnea far outweigh the efforts needed to invest in continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy to treat it.

Without proactive compliance to CPAP therapy, those with sleep apnea are setting themselves up for a lifetime of chronic health problems as well as a higher likelihood of suffering from injuries.

In addition, the higher healthcare expenses that come with untreated OSA, and the reduction in quality of life that is also part of the cost of not treating it, make one thing clear: you can't ignore a sleep apnea problem without paying a price.  

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The truth about pregnancy and sleep apnea: Know your risks... treatment is easy

Tamara Kaye Sellman, RPSGT, CCSH

Learn more about sleep apnea as it relates to: 

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Did you know? Stubborn insomnia may actually be sleep apnea

Tamara Kaye Sellman, RPSGT, CCSH

Recent research suggests that those with stubborn insomnia—who have not responded to a variety of drugs and therapiesmay not have insomnia at all.

Another stealthy sleep disorder, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), may actually be to blame.

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Untreated sleep apnea and high blood pressure: Risks, causes, and correlations

Tamara Kaye Sellman, RPSGT, CCSH

There are people who have been diagnosed with some form of sleep apnea who have not taken the critical step of starting therapy for it. 

They may mistakenly believe they can "live" with their sleep apnea, or they may be intimidated by treatment options (or not know about their options at all). 

Unfortunately, if they don't treat their sleep apnea, they are practically guaranteeing that they will either develop high blood pressure (hypertension) as a result, or aggravate a preexisting case of it.

What makes this even worse is that both sleep apnea and hypertension are silent conditions, in that it can be impossible for some people to know they have either without a full medical assessment. 

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