Tips to Protect Your Heart
Two sleeprelated problems that plague many people sleep deprivation and sleep apnea have been linked to a higher risk of heart disease.
Sleep deprivation. Over time, inadequate or poor quality sleep can increase the risk for a number of chronic health problems, including heart disease. Studies have linked shortterm sleep deprivation with several wellknown contributors to heart disease, including high cholesterol, high triglycerides, and high blood pressure.
Sleep apnea. This common cause of loud, disruptive snoring makes people temporarily stop breathing many times during the night. Up to 83% of people with heart disease also have sleep apnea, according to some estimates.
In the most common form, obstructive sleep apnea, soft tissue in the upper part of the mouth or back of the throat completely blocks the airway. Oxygen levels dip and the brain sends an urgent Breathe now! signal. That signal briefly wakes the sleeper and makes him or her gasp for air. That signal also jolts the same stress hormone and nerve pathways that are stimulated when you are angry or frightened. As a result, the heart beats faster and blood pressure rises along with other things that can threaten heart health such as inflammation and an increase in blood clotting ability.