Sleep Apnea

Can Heart Arrhythmias Be Linked to Sleep Apnea?

Can Heart Arrhythmias Be Linked to Sleep Apnea?

Your heart beats most efficiently when it maintains a constant rhythm, just like the steady drumming of your favourite music. Arrhythmias, or abnormal cardiac rhythms, can cause serious health issues if they occur frequently.

When you’re awake, you might notice if your heart misses a beat or two, but when you’re asleep, you might not. Sleep apnea is a respiratory issue that has been linked by researchers to several different cardiac rhythm abnormalities.

Can Arrhythmia Be Caused By Sleep Apnea?

OSA, or obstructive sleep apnea, is a respiratory disease that occurs during sleep and causes frequent interruptions in normal breathing. The pause (and the other frequent pauses that seem to come with it) may be brief, but they can have an effect on your heart.

About a quarter of patients who rely on a pacemaker to regulate their heartbeat also suffer from sleep apnea. This provides further evidence that sleep apnea and arrhythmias may be closely linked.

It is probable that sleep apnea is the cause of arrhythmia in some patients because treating sleep apnea has helped reverse or lessen the occurrence of arrhythmias.

Sleep apnea is more common in those who have heart problems. This suggests that some people who have the disease may have preexisting cardiac conditions. One’s chance of developing irregular heartbeats is already elevated by sleep apnea, but this condition can make things much worse.

To What Extent Is Arrhythmia and Sleep Apnea Linked?

Patients with sleep apnea often suffer from bradyarrhythmias, or abnormally slow heart rates. The likelihood of developing bradyarrhythmia increases as the severity of sleep apnea does.

However, additional arrhythmias are possible. People with sleep apnea, for instance, are at a 2x higher risk of developing atrial fibrillation.

Why Do People Get Arrhythmia When Sleeping?

Multiple sleep apnea-related factors can contribute to nighttime heart rhythm irregularities:

Making adjustments to the pressure inside the chest.

Stopping breathing during a sleep apnea episode is like to attempting to take a drink through a blocked straw. The more forcefully you try to sip through the straw, the less liquid you manage to move.

This impact is analogous to breathe through a blocked airway.

As a result, your normal intrathoracic pressure, which has an effect on your lungs and heart, shifts. These alterations may activate and move the heart, and also impact blood flow back to the heart. An arrhythmia may result from any of these alterations.

Invoking the fight-or-flight and relaxation responses.

Certain “backup” processes in the body are activated to restart breathing if it stops for any reason. The parasympathetic system, which lowers the heart rate, and the sympathetic system, which speeds it up, are two examples of such systems.

Inducing myocardial ischemia

Oxygen levels in the blood might decline during a sleep apnea episode if the person stops breathing for a period of time. Deficiency of oxygen to body tissues (hypoxia) might result.

The issue of hypoxia is one of supply and demand. The body needs oxygen to function, but the heart isn’t getting enough. Arrhythmias can develop in the event that the heart does not receive enough oxygen, a condition known as myocardial ischemia.

When a Person Has Sleep Apnea, What Happens to Their Heart?

The heart’s capacity to take in oxygen can be disrupted by sleep apnea episodes. Your body will attempt several different kinds of adaptation at first.

In order to acquire more oxygenated blood, it may try to make the heart beat faster or harder. This can have long-term consequences for heart health by increasing heart size or wearing out heart muscle.

Additionally, cardiac cells may be harmed by a lack of oxygen. Because of this, the affected region may become thicker and scarred, reducing its ability to conduct electricity.

The association between sleep apnea and heart failure has been called “bi-directional” by some experts, meaning that both conditions can exacerbate the other.

Can Heart Arrhythmias Be Linked to Sleep Apnea?

Can Sleep Apnea Cause Cardiac Problems?

Due to oxygen deprivation, untreated sleep apnea can lead to permanent cardiac abnormalities including scarring or fibrosis.

Less efficient conduction of electrical impulses via cardiac tissue. This can lead to an increase in the incidence of cardiac arrhythmias.

Your doctor should check for sleep apnea before any serious cardiac problems develop. Common causes of sleep apnea include:

  • Obesity 
  • Age
  • Increased girth around the neck
  • A history of feeling “unrefreshed” or like you haven’t slept when you get up
  • Gender

Snoring or pausing to breathe repeatedly while you sleep may be signs of sleep apnea, which can be detected by a sleeping companion. If you suspect you have sleep apnea, make an appointment with your doctor.

Doctors might potentially prescribe therapy for sleep apnea at an earlier stage if patients undergo screening for risk factors.

However, your doctor may first notice an arrhythmia before concluding that you have sleep apnea.

Arrhythmias can cause symptoms including feeling dizzy or like your heart is missing a beat. If you experience any of these signs, it may be because your heart isn’t beating in a regular rhythm.

Can sleep apnea-related cardiac damage be repaired?

If sleep apnea and cardiac arrhythmia are intertwined, treatment of both problems is necessary.

Anti-arrhythmic drugs may be less effective if sleep apnea is left untreated. And if you’re undergoing certain therapies, like ablation for atrial fibrillation, failing to address your sleep apnea might raise the likelihood of the condition returning. To what extent sleep apnea causes cardiac damage determines whether or not that damage may be reversed.

Arrhythmias may be mitigated with the use of a CPAP machine to treat sleep apnea, which increases oxygen intake while you sleep. Reduced oxygen levels can be mitigated with the use of this apparatus by keeping the airways open.

Some studies have shown that using a CPAP machine to treat sleep apnea may reverse cardiac abnormalities, depending on how severe they are. Left ventricular function may be enhanced via CPAP therapy in some patients.

However, studies conducted in 2021 show that CPAP was not successful in reducing the occurrence of atrial fibrillation among persons with moderate to severe sleep apnea.

There are alternative options for treating sleep apnea than CPAP equipment. Surgery of the upper airway or the use of oral equipment to keep the tongue in the correct position during sleeping are two of the options.

The effectiveness of these therapies in correcting damage caused by sleep apnea is unknown at this time. While sleep apnea therapies may not be able to reverse all cardiac damage, they can alleviate some potentially fatal side effects.

Takeaway

The effects of sleep apnea extend beyond simply disrupting your sleep schedule. Another argument for treating sleep apnea is that doing so reduces the risk of having irregular heart rhythms.

Treating irregular cardiac rhythms and sleep apnea can help keep your heart as healthy as possible, which is important since arrhythmias can raise the chance of premature death. Discuss with your doctor the best course of action for treating your sleep apnea and maintaining a healthy heart rate.

Treating Nighttime Reflux from GERD With Sleep Apnea CPAP Machine

Treating Nighttime Reflux from GERD With Sleep Apnea CPAP Machine

Sixty percent of people with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) also have GERD, suggesting a possible relationship between the two conditions.

If you suffer with GERD, you know the agony may radiate from your chest all the way up to your throat and back again. Nighttime GERD symptoms are typically the most debilitating and distressing.

Insomnia caused by untreated acid reflux. Trouble falling asleep and waking up at night is a common ailment. These sleep issues may be disregarded as a normal side effect of nocturnal GERD if you’ve never been tested for sleep apnea, but they may also be an indication of undiagnosed sleep apnea.

Numerous studies have found that when to stop sleep apnea, GERD symptoms disappear – without medication – improving both disorders, which is good news.

Everything you need to know about nocturnal GERD, including how sleep apnea may be to blame for your GERD and nighttime GERD symptoms and what can be done about it, is covered here.

Understanding what GERD is all about.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, is a disorder in which acid from the stomach runs back up into the oesophagus on a continuous basis. Many things can lead to GERD, such as:

Many factors, including but not limited to: an unhealthy diet, being overweight or obese, being pregnant, certain bacteria, and hiatal hernias, can contribute to acid reflux.

The lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is a muscle located between your stomach and oesophagus. The LES is designed to function as the gateway between the oesophagus and the stomach, allowing food to enter the stomach for digestion.

In addition to these, people with GERD may also have chest discomfort, nausea, a persistent cough, or a hoarse voice. Also associated with respiratory symptoms such chronic coughing, wheezing, and a lack of lung capacity. A lot of people report that these symptoms are at their worst when they go to bed.

Distinguishing Between Acid Reflux and GERD

Heartburn is the most frequent symptom of acid reflux and affects up to 20% of adult Australians at least once a week. Although the terms are commonly used interchangeably, acid reflux and GERD are not the same thing. Gastroesophageal reflux (GER) is another name for GERD.

It’s normal to get heartburn after a heavy meal or after eating too many foods that are difficult to digest, but if it happens frequently, you may have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

When ignored, GERD can erode the esophageal lining and lead to complications like Barrett’s Esophagus and even esophageal cancer.

Sleeping Difficulties Due to Heartburn

Daytime and nighttime symptoms of GERD are equally common. Seventy to seventy-five percent of people with GERD report having heartburn at night, making it extremely uncommon for someone to suffer reflux just during the day.

Although it is possible to have GERD without heartburn, the most frequent symptoms are regurgitation and heartburn. Additionally, you may experience chest pain, difficulty swallowing, and morning hoarseness. Experts in the field of gastroenterology agree that overnight heartburn is a sure sign of gastroesophageal reflux (GER) or nocturnal reflux.

What is the Role of CPAP Therapy in Treating GERD?

Yes, several studies have shown that using a CPAP machine at night can significantly lessen the intensity and frequency of GERD symptoms. The effects of GERD and sleep apnea can be cyclical, so it’s best to treat both conditions together.

Apneas and hypopneas are avoided with CPAP treatment (partial obstructions of the airway). Many of the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea, such as acid reflux, can be eliminated or greatly diminished by minimizing these blockages. In addition to increasing blood pressure, CPAP also raises the pressure in the chest. The oesophagus receives this pressure and is thus protected against acid reflux. As air pressure is increased in the airways, symptoms tend to improve.

According to one research, CPAP therapy can significantly cut down on acid reflux, with users reporting a 60% reduction in heartburn symptoms. Results from the study also demonstrated that maintaining CPAP treatment resulted in much less heartburn.

The continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy has shown to be a successful and well-liked treatment option for sleep apnea. Seeing that a single therapy can help with both GERD and sleep problems is promising for those who suffer from both disorders.

Care for Acid Reflux and Sleep Disorders

Many patients live with sleep apnea and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) for years before receiving a diagnosis. One can better gauge when it is time to seek diagnosis and treatment if they are aware of the signs to look out for.

Fortunately, CPAP is a viable therapy option for those who suffer from both GERD and sleep apnea. Adjustments to one’s way of life that are generally positive are also helpful. The first piece of advice is very helpful for those who are coping with obstructive sleep apnea and gastroesophageal reflux disease. In addition to your doctor’s treatment suggestions, consider steps two and three if your sleep study or sleep apnea test shows OSA is not to blame for your nocturnal GERD.

Being overweight or obese greatly increases your risk of developing both sleep apnea and GERD. By reducing the strain on your stomach and diaphragm, weight loss can help alleviate GERD and sleep apnea.

The best method to maintain a healthy weight and manage your symptoms is to eat a nutritious, well-balanced diet. Don’t stuff yourself right before night with a huge dinner. 

Alcohol and caffeine Citrus fruits and tomatoes and other acidic foods

Secondly, when you lay flat on your back, acid from your stomach can more easily wash up into your oesophagus and throat, exacerbating your reflux symptoms. This might cause you to wake up with a sore throat in the morning, have an acidic taste in your mouth, or even cause you to choke or gag in your sleep.

You can alleviate overnight GERD symptoms by lying on your back while lifting your upper body to a comfortable inclination. This is because gravity will be pushing against stomach acid as it tries to go up your oesophagus now that it is higher than your stomach.

However, a particular, wedge-shaped cushion is required for this. Regular pillows are just good for propping up your head, not your whole upper body. In order to achieve the best effects, a thick-topped wedge cushion should be used.

Third, if you suffer with GERD at night, sleeping on your left side can help.

As was previously noted, resting on your back might aggravate GERD symptoms. If sleeping with your head and shoulders propped up is too unpleasant, consider switching to the left side of your bed instead.

Because your oesophagus is now higher than your stomach, gravity has an easier time keeping your stomach’s contents where they belong. Snoring is also much reduced when sleeping on one’s side.

However, the benefits of sleeping on your left side are not shared by sleeping on your right. In reality, the reverse is sometimes the case. Lying on your right side, like sleeping flat on your back, might increase the likelihood of reflux, which is not helpful in relieving your nocturnal discomfort. If you don’t prefer sleeping on your back with a wedge pillow, the left side is the best option.

Though making some healthy lifestyle adjustments can help a lot with GERD, it’s important to note that obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) therapy helps GERD even if OSA is misdiagnosed or untreated. Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), the gold standard therapy for OSA, has been proven to decrease the amount of time that acid spends in the oesophagus over the course of a day.

Conclusion 

The importance of seeking a consultation and examination cannot be overstated if you have symptoms of gastric reflux and think they could be connected to obstructive sleep apnea or another sleep condition. Contact sleep specialist at Air Liquide Healthcare today if, in addition to GERD, you also have any of the other risk factors for sleep apnea.lll

Can Sleep Apnea Contributes to Hair Loss?

People with sleep apnea feel exhausted the next day, even after getting a “full” night’s rest. The very idea of having blocked or lapsed breathing is frightening enough, but those who really have it also suffer from secondary concerns including marital troubles, weight gain, and reduced cognitive functioning. These problems are caused by the secondary effects of the primary condition.

Even more concerning, research has shown that long-term impacts might hasten the development of hereditary characteristics such as androgenetic alopecia. In addition, there is a correlation between increased stress and living with sleep apnea symptoms, which raises further concerns regarding sleep and hair loss. This link cannot be denied. These preliminary findings raise the question of whether or not sleep apnea may lead to hair loss. Click here to get can exercises help reduce risk or improve symptoms of sleep apnea?

What Are the Roots of Hair Loss?

  • Certain haircuts that put a lot of stress on the follicles and the scalp, as well as treatments (such using hot oil);
  • Certain hormonal and medical situations, like pregnancy, thyroid problems, and alopecia areata;
  • Hair loss can be predicted by looking at a person’s family history. Androgenetic alopecia, often known as male-pattern baldness or female-pattern baldness, is the most prevalent cause of hair loss.
  • A traumatic incident or chronic stress 
  • Medications and health supplements connected to high blood pressure, arthritis, and some kinds of cancer

A study on sleep that was conducted in 2017 found a variety of connections between chronic sleep loss and both short-term and long-term health problems. The stress that is brought on by ongoing disturbance might hasten the manifestation of hereditary characteristics like androgenetic alopecia.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Alopecia

There is not a clear causative connection between alopecia and sleep apnea; nonetheless, there is sufficient data to show a link between the two conditions. It is normal for people to have daily hair loss, which is followed by the growth of new hair as a replacement. The circadian rhythm, also known as an internal clock, plays a role in this process.

A study that was done in 2014 discovered a connection between maintaining a regular circadian rhythm and maintaining the integrity of newly regenerated stem cell tissue. Hair follicles were affected by the extended interruption in the sleep-wake cycles of the animals that were studied. The findings raise additional concerns about the possible connection between insufficient sleep and thinning hair in humans.

The sleep-wake cycle has an impact on the production of melatonin, which is occasionally used topically as a treatment for balding or thinning hair. Secretion of melatonin occurs during typical periods of sleep, although this process can be hampered by conditions such as irregular sleep-wake cycles or chronic tiredness, both of which are symptoms of sleep apnea.

Poor sleep quality, obstructive sleep apnea, and hair loss are all linked.

The most frequent type of sleep apnea is called obstructive sleep apnea, and it is defined by the relaxation of the muscles of the throat. The relaxation makes it more difficult for air to move through, which results in snoring and a drop in the amount of oxygen in the blood. When the brain detects that a person is exerting themselves to breathe, it temporarily rouses them from sleep (so brief a sleeper may not remember). This cycle may recur more frequently than thirty times every hour during the night.

The disturbance accumulates over time, resulting in persistent fatigue and, in some circumstances, a neurobiological ‘cost’ or ‘sleep debt.’ A lack of quality sleep is the first step in the cycle of sleep deprivation and hair loss. This leads to increased stress in one’s personal, professional, and familial life, which in turn adds to hair loss.

How does stress play a role in the thinning of hair that is associated with sleep apnea?

This can occur in one of three ways:

  • Psychosomatic reactions to stress, such as tugging at one’s hair or eyebrows, have been shown to be triggered by stress. Trichotillomania is an impulse control disorder that causes patients to compulsively pull off their hair.
  • When a person is under a significant amount of stress, their hair follicles enter a dormant or sleeping state. Because of the accumulation, the impacted hairs become more likely to break off when they are washed or combed in the future.
  • Severe stress triggers an immune system reaction, such as that seen in alopecia areata, which instructs the body to target hair follicles, resulting in hair loss.

Sleep Apnea Remedies

The condition can be treated with a variety of treatments, both at home and at medical facilities.

  • Increasing oxygen flow in the body by physical activity (yoga, running, etc.); this may be done by:
  • Keeping a healthy weight
  • Utilizing oral appliances (to keep airways open when sleeping)
  • Staying away from alcoholic beverages and tobacco products

CPAP treatment is something that medical professionals could recommend. Sleep apnea sufferers are able to reap the advantages of a restful night’s sleep thanks to the unblocking of their breathing passages by a CPAP machine. The continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine produces a steady flow of air and exerts just the right amount of pressure to keep the airway in the back of the neck open while the user sleeps soundly.

Benefits of Using a CPAP Machine Include:

  • Lower chance of getting type 2 diabetes
  • Lower risk of developing heart disease and stroke
  • an increase in attentiveness throughout the day
  • an improvement in both focus and emotional steadiness

What to Do If You’re Worried About Sleep Deprivation and Losing Your Hair

Consider undergoing a sleep study if you are experiencing symptoms that may be connected to sleep apnea or if you suspect that you may have sleep apnea. Not getting enough sleep may lead to a range of health problems, including heart disease, poor performance at work, and strained personal relationships, in addition to hair loss.

When it comes to enhancing the overall quality of your life, conducting research is an essential step. The most effective therapy as well as preventative measures can be prescribed by specialists once a thorough diagnostic has been performed. You have access to a number of different sleep tests, all of which are directed by knowledgeable and compassionate experts who are standing by to assist you.

Can Exercises Help Reduce Risk or Improve Symptoms of Sleep Apnea?

Can Exercises Help Reduce Risk or Improve Symptoms of Sleep Apnea?

One of the most common causes of interrupted sleep is a blocked airway, which is the case with those who suffer from sleep apnea. Because of this blockage, you will have trouble breathing while you sleep. Sleep apnea is characterised by snoring and periodic interruptions in breathing while sleeping. About 80% of those who snore have sleep apnea.

Although OSA is the most frequent, there are two other forms of sleep apnea.

When the airway is physically blocked during sleep, a condition known as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) develops. When the brain has trouble regulating the muscles responsible for breathing during sleep, a condition known as central sleep apnea (CSA) occurs. Mixed or complex sleep apnea occurs when a person has both obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and central sleep apnea (CSA) and so has obstructions from both conditions. Learn more can heart arrhythmias be linked to sleep apnea?

Exercising can help with the first two degrees of sleep disruption and the third level is beneficial in its own right. Not breathing when sleeping is a significant problem that can have major consequences for your health, as you may well know. Thanks to its ability to alleviate symptoms and prevent the onset of sleep apnea, exercise is a double-edged sword for your health.

Can Exercises Help Reduce Risk or Improve Symptoms of Sleep Apnea?

Physical Consequences of Sleep Apnea

Some of the organs and tissues that are impacted by sleep apnea are the brain, the heart, and the reproductive system. Because sleep apnea is so often overlooked, patients are often prescribed drugs and therapies that don’t provide optimal results. In the case of people with untreated sleep apnea, the effectiveness of medications like insulin and blood pressure medicine may be diminished.

When it comes to the negative consequences of OSA on the body, exercise has an even higher impact because it is also helping lessen the effect of sleep apnea. This is because many of the symptoms associated with OSA are also warning indicators.

Reduced sleep quality is a major consequence of OSA. This is because the exhaustion and physical repercussions of breathing difficulties sometimes persist even after a full night’s sleep.

Additional health issues that can be exacerbated by sleep apnea include:

Problems with cognitive function or memory loss; diabetes or pre-diabetes; excessive daytime sleepiness; erectile dysfunction; high blood pressure; gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD); heart disease or heart failure;

Adding insult to injury, obstructive sleep apnea worsens with age and weight. That’s why it’s crucial to finish your therapy or get help if you suspect you have sleep apnea. The symptoms you’re experiencing won’t go away on their own, and they may get worse if you ignore them.

What methods exist for dealing with sleep apnea?

Before discussing the role of exercise in treating sleep apnea, it is crucial to realise that while weight reduction can assist OSA symptoms, it will not cure the illness.

Treatment with a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine is the gold standard for treating sleep apnea and other breathing disorders during sleep.

Patients with sleep apnea can benefit from CPAP therapy by using a device that delivers a steady stream of air to their airway while they sleep. Consistent use of a CPAP device has been shown in several trials to improve cognitive function, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and heart attack, and even extend life expectancy.

Common treatments for sleep apnea include continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines and dietary and lifestyle changes. Losing weight can help alleviate certain OSA symptoms, but it won’t cure the condition. Losing weight can help lessen symptoms and improve sleep quality, which makes sense given that being overweight can make the condition worse.

Can Exercise Cure Sleep Apnea, 

The prevalence of obstructive sleep apnea increases with body mass index. It may be the most important contributor to sleep apnea for certain people. That’s because carrying more weight around your neck might cause your upper airway to get blocked, making breathing difficult. This is the root cause of the severe snoring that is a hallmark of OSA. The same is true for the lungs: excess body fat in the midsection can diminish lung volume and so limit one’s breathing ability.

One of the finest things you can do for yourself is to lose weight if you’re overweight or obese and have sleep apnea. Losing weight can help you breathe easier by reducing the pressure in your chest. This can help you stop snoring. The severity of OSA might be decreased by half with just a 10% to 15% weight loss in obese individuals.

Researchers found that moderately obese OSA patients may not need long-term CPAP therapy if they lost weight. When paired with CPAP treatment, losing weight can have additional health benefits.

As a result, this is where exercise comes in. Physical exercise is a key factor in achieving weight reduction success. Exercise may not even be the most beneficial part if you have OSA, even if weight loss can lower OSA severity by 50%.

Can Exercises Help Reduce Risk or Improve Symptoms of Sleep Apnea?

How to Treat Sleep Apnea with Throat Exercises

Additional exercises for the nose, mouth, and throat can aid in reducing or eliminating snoring in addition to the weight reduction benefits of aerobic activity.

When your airway muscles relax or protrude during sleep, you experience snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. These manoeuvres assist with nasal breathing as you sleep by training and strengthening the muscles that line the nasal passages, moving the tongue, and opening the mouth slightly.

Oropharyngeal exercise, also known as myofunctional treatment for sleep apnea, works on the muscles and soft tissues of the jaw, neck, and mouth. It’s a great way to train your tongue and jaw into a more comfortable resting position.

Some studies have found that myofunctional treatment can lessen the effects of sleep apnea. One meta-analysis showed that patients treated with myofunctional therapy had a reduction in their apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) from 24.5 to 12.3. Reduces moderate apnea to a milder form of the condition.

Keeping your mouth and throat muscles toned and strong via daytime exercise might help reduce snoring and treat moderate obstructive sleep apnea by limiting muscular vibration during sleep. When performed in conjunction with a CPAP machine and a healthy lifestyle, these activities can be even more beneficial.

Exercises that focus on deep breathing can also assist with sleep apnea by opening and strengthening the muscles around the airways. Using them before bed can help you breathe more easily through your nose and keep your airways from collapsing as you sleep.

Knowing When to Seek the Advice of a Professional

Modifying your way of life can help your sleep apnea, but it may not be enough for severe cases. An expert in sleep medicine can help you choose which treatments are best for you.

You may take our sleep quiz to see whether you have sleep apnea if you haven’t been diagnosed with it yet. You can use it to evaluate your symptoms and determine if sleep apnea testing is necessary. A consultation and sleep study might be helpful if you have trouble sleeping. Get in touch with Air Liquide Healthcare right now to set up a consultation and learn more about the effective treatments available.

Getting a simple and quick sleep exam might be the difference between another night of bad sleep and the peaceful sleep you deserve if you have obstructive sleep apnea.

Can Heart Arrhythmias Be Linked to Sleep Apnea?

Can Heart Arrhythmias Be Linked to Sleep Apnea?

Your heart beats most efficiently when it maintains a constant rhythm, just like the steady drumming of your favourite music. Arrhythmias, or abnormal cardiac rhythms, can cause serious health issues if they occur frequently.

When you’re awake, you might notice if your heart misses a beat or two, but when you’re asleep, you might not. Sleep apnea is a respiratory issue that has been linked by researchers to several different cardiac rhythm abnormalities.

Can arrhythmia be caused by sleep apnea?

OSA, or obstructive sleep apnea, is a respiratory disease that occurs during sleep and causes frequent interruptions in normal breathing. The pause (and the other frequent pauses that seem to come with it) may be brief, but they can have an effect on your heart.

About a quarter of patients who rely on a pacemaker to regulate their heartbeat also suffer from sleep apnea. This provides further evidence that sleep apnea and arrhythmias may be closely linked.

It is probable that sleep apnea is the cause of arrhythmia in some patients because treating sleep apnea has helped reverse or lessen the occurrence of arrhythmias.

Sleep apnea is more common in those who have heart problems. This suggests that some people who experience sleep apnea may have preexisting cardiac conditions. One’s chance of developing irregular heartbeats is already elevated by sleep apnea, but this condition can make things much worse.

To what extent is arrhythmia and sleep apnea linked?

Patients with sleep apnea often suffer from bradyarrhythmias, or abnormally slow heart rates. The likelihood of developing bradyarrhythmia increases as the severity of sleep apnea does.

However, additional arrhythmias are possible. People with sleep apnea, for instance, are at a 2x higher risk of developing atrial fibrillation.

Why do people get arrhythmia when sleeping?

Multiple sleep apnea-related factors can contribute to nighttime heart rhythm irregularities:

Making adjustments to the pressure inside the chest.

Stopping breathing during a sleep apnea episode is like to attempting to take a drink through a blocked straw. The more forcefully you try to sip through the straw, the less liquid you manage to move.

This impact is analogous to that of trying to breathe through a blocked airway.

As a result, your normal intrathoracic pressure, which has an effect on your lungs and heart, shifts. These alterations may activate and move the heart, and also impact blood flow back to the heart. An arrhythmia may result from any of these alterations.

Invoking the fight-or-flight and relaxation responses.

Certain “backup” processes in the body are activated to restart breathing if it stops for any reason. The parasympathetic system, which lowers the heart rate, and the sympathetic system, which speeds it up, are two examples of such systems.

Inducing myocardial ischemia

Oxygen levels in the blood might decline during a sleep apnea episode if the person stops breathing for a period of time. Deficiency of oxygen to body tissues (hypoxia) might result.

The issue of hypoxia is one of supply and demand. The body needs oxygen to function, but the heart isn’t getting enough. Arrhythmias can develop in the event that the heart does not receive enough oxygen, a condition known as myocardial ischemia.

Can Heart Arrhythmias Be Linked to Sleep Apnea?

When a person has sleep apnea, what happens to their heart?

The heart’s capacity to take in oxygen can be disrupted by sleep apnea episodes. Your body will attempt several different kinds of adaptation at first.

In order to acquire more oxygenated blood, it may try to make the heart beat faster or harder. This can have long-term consequences for heart health by increasing heart size or wearing out heart muscle.

Additionally, cardiac cells may be harmed by a lack of oxygen. Because of this, the affected region may become thicker and scarred, reducing its ability to conduct electricity.

The association between sleep apnea and heart failure has been called “bi-directional” by some experts, meaning that both conditions can exacerbate the other.

Can sleep apnea cause cardiac problems?

Due to oxygen deprivation, untreated sleep apnea can lead to permanent cardiac abnormalities including scarring or fibrosis.

Less efficient conduction of electrical impulses via cardiac tissue. This can lead to an increase in the incidence of cardiac arrhythmias.

Your doctor should check for sleep apnea before any serious cardiac problems develop. Common causes of sleep apnea include:

  • Obesity 
  • Age
  • Increased girth around the neck
  • A history of feeling “unrefreshed” or like you haven’t slept when you get up
  • Gender

Snoring or pausing to breathe repeatedly while you sleep may be signs of sleep apnea, which can be detected by a sleeping companion. If you suspect you have sleep apnea, make an appointment with your doctor.

Doctors might potentially prescribe therapy for sleep apnea at an earlier stage if patients undergo screening for risk factors.

However, your doctor may first notice an arrhythmia before concluding that you have sleep apnea.

Arrhythmias can cause symptoms including feeling dizzy or like your heart is missing a beat. If you experience any of these signs, it may be because your heart isn’t beating in a regular rhythm.

Can sleep apnea-related cardiac damage be repaired?

If sleep apnea and cardiac arrhythmia are intertwined, treatment of both problems is necessary.

Anti-arrhythmic drugs may be less effective if sleep apnea is left untreated. And if you’re undergoing certain therapies, like ablation for atrial fibrillation, failing to address your sleep apnea might raise the likelihood of the condition returning. To what extent sleep apnea causes cardiac damage determines whether or not that damage may be reversed.

Arrhythmias may be mitigated with the use of a CPAP machine to treat sleep apnea, which increases oxygen intake while you sleep. Reduced oxygen levels can be mitigated with the use of this apparatus by keeping the airways open.

Some studies have shown that using a CPAP machine to treat sleep apnea may reverse cardiac abnormalities, depending on how severe they are. Left ventricular function may be enhanced via CPAP therapy in some patients.

However, studies conducted in 2021 show that CPAP was not successful in reducing the occurrence of atrial fibrillation among persons with moderate to severe sleep apnea.

There are alternative options for treating sleep apnea than CPAP equipment. Surgery of the upper airway or the use of oral equipment to keep the tongue in the correct position during sleeping are two of the options.

The effectiveness of these therapies in correcting damage caused by sleep apnea is unknown at this time. While sleep apnea therapies may not be able to reverse all cardiac damage, they can alleviate some potentially fatal side effects.

Takeaway

The effects of sleep apnea extend beyond simply disrupting your sleep schedule. Another argument for treating sleep apnea is that doing so reduces the risk of having irregular heart rhythms.

Treating irregular cardiac rhythms and sleep apnea can help keep your heart as healthy as possible, which is important since arrhythmias can raise the chance of premature death. Discuss with your doctor the best course of action for treating your sleep apnea and maintaining a healthy heart rate.