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'Wake Up' to the Health Risks of Heavy Snoring
Date:2/2/2009

The nighttime nuisance could signal breathing problems associated with strokes, heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems

ANN ARBOR, Mich., Feb. 2 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Heavy snoring can be far from a nuisance. It can be a sign of obstructive sleep apnea, a condition where an individual briefly stops breathing during the night which raises the risk of heart failure and strokes.

"Sleep apnea or sleep disordered breathing is one that we're getting more and more interested in because we see a very strong association with strokes, heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems," says Dr. Melvyn Rubenfire, M.D., director of Preventative Cardiology at the University of Michigan Health System's Cardiovascular Center.

The cardiovascular risk factors that most often come to mind are smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and family history. But it's important to be aware of the possible health risks of heavy snoring.

Snoring is caused by a blockage in the back of the throat. What you hear is the tongue forced to the back of the throat when a person is lying on their back.

When people snore they don't always stop breathing, but there are chemicals in the brain that should trigger breathing that are not stimulated when a person snores. Without the stimulation the person will often stop breathing.

When a person obstructs at night and stops breathing, oxygen levels drop dramatically and hormones and adrenaline surge. Those hormones contribute to high blood pressure, irregularities of the heart and can trigger heart attacks

People who snore do not necessarily have obstructive sleep apnea but the relationship is pretty strong.

And the relationship between snoring and cardiovascular problems goes both ways. Those with heart problems are more likely to have sleeping disorders. For example, heart f
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SOURCE University of Michigan Health System
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