Snoring is seen as an anti-social habit since it disturbs those who are sleeping. As a result, many people feel so embarrassed about their snoring, that there are even those who remain in denial for as long as possible. 


The truth is that no one snores intentionally. As a result of the lack of attention devoted to this dilemma in medical terms, the public has, for the most part, misunderstood the issue and its’ implications. Qualified research is therefore still relatively new, and consequently, public awareness of the health-related problems is minimal.


The definition of snoring

Snoring is the disturbing sound that occurs when some people are sleeping. The snorer often sleeps lying on his or her back, head back with an open mouth. Snoring is more common in those that sleep in this position, but it is not always the case. What is happening in every instance, is that during inhalation the tissues in the back of the throat vibrate as the flow of air moves over them. 


What your snoring reveals about your heart health 

Obesity, alcohol and other depressants are protagonists that increase the likelihood of snoring. People believe that these are merely temporary triggers. Many think that removing these instigators will result in immediate cessation of the disturbance.


The knowledge that snoring is far more than a personal embarrassment is not yet mainstream. The truth is that it is indicative of more severe health issues than many snorers would care to face.


Naturally, the louder someone snores, the more obvious the condition. The higher the volume of a snore the more disturbing it is for the non-snorer. However, it is not only the very loud snorers who should take action by going to a doctor. 


It is not only extreme snoring disorders that are accompanied by severe risks to cardiac function. Even moderate cases can reveal a problem with this most vital of organs. Both the very loud as well as milder snoring habits must receive proper attention. If you suffer from either the extreme or anything in-between, pay attention. Approach them both with an awareness of a possible presence of heart disease to some or other degree. 


Those at greatest risk


Although more men snore than women do, women are substantially more at risk from the snoring that points to heart-related issues. These are the facts according to a new study presented as recently as November 2018. At the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) the research team revealed their findings. Other lifestyle-related factors are also involved.


The cause of snoring

Medically, a tendency to snoring is statistically associated with hypertension, smoking, obesity, heavy alcohol use, physical inactivity and dyspnoea. It is the combination of snoring together with these traits that are considered to result in the compounding effects that cause heart damage.


The revelation of deeper truths

In what is termed ‘The Henry Forbes Study’, the team made significant discoveries regarding the underlying conditions leading to snoring. Ear, nose and throat specialists presented this evidence in 2013. In short, snoring can be a sign of a serious malady. People tend to focus on the disturbances the sound creates. It is highly recommended that a snorer approaches the superficial problem far more seriously than was the general custom. It is often merely a symptom of a more unfortunate reality than the general populace was aware. 

The plain fact is that snoring is more prevalent in those that are either obese or frequently drink alcohol. Doctors at the time believed that these truths were the first and foremost cause of snoring.

However, lurking beneath this irritating sound, there are quite possibly grave developments regarding cardiac health. The ENT specialists of the ‘Henry Ford Study’ made some eye-opening findings which were not common knowledge at the time. 

The researchers carrying out the investigations found that snoring is indicative of already damaged carotid arteries! In the same study, they compared the thickness of the carotid arteries in snorers to those in non-snorers. What came to light was that, on average, snorers have a higher degree of thickening in their heart’s carotid arteries.

Poor lifestyle choices damage the health of the arteries. The point is that it is those choices that initially damage the veins and it is this compromised condition that causes the subject to snore. 


The reason is that this condition leads to breathing interruptions. Arterial damage, therefore, lowers the amount of oxygen in the blood. It causes an increase in the diameter of artery walls. Simply put, it ultimately decreases the existing space for oxygenated blood to flow. 


A situation thus arises where the heart has to work far harder than it ideally should. Furthermore, it is working harder with oxygen levels that are already below the optimum even for a resting heart rate. In this way, a reduction of available oxygen in the system places further strain on the heart, and it becomes compromised.


Besides, the thickening of the arteries, in turn, contributes to the habit of snoring. The problem continues to compound. The actual vibrations of the snoring itself damage the arteries further.


Deeb, the lead author of the study at the time, stated his desire that this research should encourage snorers to take their condition far more seriously. It had become evident to the researchers that snoring is not merely an inconvenient social disorder. As a snorer, it is in your best interests to visit your doctor to address your cardiovascular health and to make the necessary lifestyle changes. Doctors are by now, five years later, hopefully, more aware that snoring should be added to the list of risk factors for heart disease.  The original list already included high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and a family history of heart problems.


The link between loud snoring, OSA and heart disease


In an independent study in the UK, Dr Curta and his team analysed data from 4,877 participants who had received a cardiac MRI. The researchers discovered that undiagnosed Obstructive Sleep Apnea is so widespread as to cause great concern.


The loud snoring that many snorers suffer from is a common sign of OSA. Complete or partial obstructions of the upper airway are the primary cause of OSA. Blockages like these create a significant increase in the left ventricular mass. It is a common symptom which is typical of subjects who snore and who also have heart issues. Left ventricular hypertrophy is also an independent predictor for increased adverse events as well as in-hospital mortality in many unrelated procedures. 


Many are aware that OSA is an indicator of cardiovascular disease. As discussed, the new evidence uncovered by Dr Deeb and his research team in 2013 revealed that carotid artery damage is the cause of snoring. At the time they also noted that the previous assumption that snoring causes further carotid artery damage was also valid. Deeb and his group found that there is a potentially grim reality developing in all snorers who do not change their lifestyle habits. Unfortunately, it is generally an unknown fact that the transition from snoring to OSA is an evolving process leading to the development of heart conditions.


Cures and treatments

There is hope for snorers with or without existing or developing heart damage.

Specific surgical techniques and individual machines are readily available which can help those with snoring and related issues. 

A surgeon can trim the soft palate and uvula, remove the tonsils and re-position some of the muscles of the soft palate. 

Devices called CPAP to ensure that the upper airways remain open during sleep. The invention does so by applying continuous positive airway pressure.

CPAP also happen to assist with weight loss by regulating the body’s production of appetite-influencing hormones. Further, a better quality of sleep is known to result in a more balanced appetite. The result is better weight management, healthier arteries and subsequently less strain on the heart.


Important to bear in mind

Surgical techniques and technologically advanced devices alone are not the answer for moderate to severe snoring problems. You will want to gain the most significant potential benefits possible.

For this reason,  a healthy diet and a balanced lifestyle are imperative.  

Naturally included is the elimination of alcohol and cigarettes.

Of course, much depends on the level of damage to the body, as well as the dedication of the patient to his or her recovery.  

A final word

Suffice it to say that regarding organ health the same applies to both the sufferer of OSA and the mild snorer. Ultimately, the lifestyle you choose is what carries the most significant weight for your future. Lifestyle choices will determine whether or not you are to remain healthy and heart-disease-free for many years to come.

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