Snoring, Sleep Apnea, and Strokes: Are You at Risk?

Snoring, Sleep Apnea, and Strokes: Are You at Risk?

Mar 13, 2018

Sometimes snoring is more than annoying – it could mean that you’re at greater risk for obstructive sleep apnea and a stroke.

On our blog this month, we’ve been taking a closer look at what sleep apnea is and how oral appliance therapy can help.

One of the most serious complications of sleep apnea is an increased risk of having a stroke.

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is when you stop breathing for 10 or more seconds repeatedly throughout the night.

The American Sleep Apnea Association notes “It could be caused by overlarge or swollen tissues such as the tongue or uvula blocking the passage of air. Another condition leading to OSA is the retention of excessive fluid and/or fatty areas in the neck which place pressure on the airway, making it difficult for air to pass through.”

The collapsed or blocked airway leads to loud snoring and gasping. This is one of the most noticeable symptoms of sleep apnea. Checkout this blog post for other signs you could have sleep apnea.

How is sleep apnea linked to strokes?

Dr. Melissa C. Lipford, a neurologist at the Center for Sleep Medicine at Mayo Clinic, studied the link between sleep apnea and strokes.

“During an apneic episode, the body asserts an amazing amount of effort to try to open the airway and get a breath in,” she said. “Oxygen levels go down, and carbon dioxide levels go up.”

Repeatedly stopping and starting breathing while sleeping leads to nervous system surges that increase blood pressure and cause fluctuations in heart rates, ultimately leading to hypertension and atrial fibrillation.

High blood pressure and AFib are both primary risk factors for strokes.

What treatment options are available?

Keeping your airway open and prevent apneic episodes can prevent snoring, lower blood pressure and decrease the risk of a stroke.

CPAP machines are the most common treatment for sleep apnea, but many people find them uncomfortable. Because of the serious complications of sleep apnea, like strokes, it’s important to find a treatment option that works for you.

Millennium Smiles offers patients in Frisco and Little Elm oral appliance therapy as an alternative to CPAP treatment. The appliance is like a mouthguard that aligns your jaw to keep your airway open.

If you think you could have sleep apnea, we’ll work with your physician to determine if oral appliance therapy is the be the course of treatment for you.

Call us at 972-987-4899 for more information.