Heart Disease and Stroke: Is There a Snoring Connection?

health-deseaseMost people are under the impression that smoking, high cholesterol, or carrying around excess weight are the main contributors to heart disease and stroke. Well, otolaryngologists at Detroit’s Henry Ford Hospital have found that there is one culprit that is even more dangerous than the other risk factors: snoring!

“Snoring is more than a bedtime annoyance and it shouldn’t be ignored. Patients need to seek treatment in the same way they would if they had sleep apnea, high blood pressure or other risk factors for cardiovascular disease.”

The brain receives oxygenated blood via two large blood vessels. When the lining of these vessels thickens the result is a precursor to atherosclerosis. Many vascular diseases are a result of the hardening of these arteries.

The study showed that snorers display changes in the carotid artery. This is suggested to be the result of subsequent inflammation and trauma caused by the tissue vibrations that take place during snoring.

The results of this study were released at the Triological Society in Scottsdale, Arizona, during the 2013 Combined Sections Meeting. They were then submitted for publication to the Laryngoscope journal.

The Obstructive Sleep Apnea Link

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) has long been associated with a number of serious health concerns, including cardiovascular disease. OSA is a sleep disorder that occurs as a result of a collapsed airway during sleep. It causes not only loud snoring, but periodic pauses in breathing, as well.

Although the link between OSA and heart disease has long been known, it is now believed that the risk may begin with snoring. Until recently there has not been much evidence to prove such a connection between the two.

What the Study Revealed

Dr Robert Deeb

Dr Robert Deeb

During the study at Henry Ford, Dr. Deeb and Kathleen Yaremchuk M.D., a senior study author, reviewed the data for 913 patients previously evaluated by the sleep center at the institution.

None of the patients included in the study had sleep apnea. They had participated in on ongoing sleep study from December 2006 to January 2012. All were between 18 and 50 years old.

Kathleen Yaremchuk M.D.

Kathleen Yaremchuk M.D.

A total of 54 patients had a carotid artery duplex ultrasound done to measure the arteries’ intima-media thickness. They also completed a survey regarding snoring habits.

Carotid intima-media thickness is a measurement used to describe the thickness of the arterial wall’s innermost two layers. It can be used to detect and track atherosclerotic disease progression. The first sigh of carotid artery disease is intima-media thickness.

When test results of snorers were compared to non-snorers the study showed that the carotid arteries in snorers had a greater intima-media thickness.

It was also revealed that there were no significant differences in the intima-media thickness in patients whether or not they had traditional risk factors, such as diabetes, smoking, hypercholesterolemia, or hypertension.

The research team at Henry Ford intends on conducting a long-term study on the link between snoring and cardiovascular disease. Since snoring is regarded as a cosmetic concern according to health insurance companies. The research team hopes to prove the connection so patients can finally receive the early treatment that they need to prevent more serious long-term health issues.

I also suggest to read my article “Snoring Is Linked To Cancer. It Is Now Official”