Sleep apnea affects many of the complex systems of our bodies and is associated with other serious conditions like high blood pressure. Many people think sleep apnea is as simple as snoring, but it’s really much more than that.
When we sleep, all of our muscles relax, including those in the neck and throat. If you have excess neck tissue, this can put pressure on your airway and cause it to collapse. As your airway collapses, the path air takes to get to your lungs narrows and has to squeeze through instead of moving freely. This will cause you to snore or even temporarily stop breathing while you sleep – up to hundreds of times each night.
Constantly depriving your body of oxygen each night has a tremendously negative impact on your body. Normally, your blood pressure falls at night. If you have sleep apnea, your blood pressure may not fall, which can lead to high blood pressure. Every time your oxygen level drops, this raises your blood pressure and causes an adrenaline surge. This puts increased stress on your heart because it has to work harder to normalize your blood pressure. The connection doesn’t end there. High blood pressure can lead to other consequences like heart attack and stroke.
High blood pressure, like sleep apnea, isn’t normally something you can detect on your own. If you have sleep apnea, you likely don’t know about it unless other people tell you that you’re keeping them up at night by snoring or temporarily stopping breathing when you sleep. If someone tells you that you do either of these things, it’s important to take it seriously because sleep apnea is linked to so many other life-threatening conditions like high blood pressure. Many people still don’t believe they have sleep apnea, even when a loved one tells them the signs. If someone has told you, take time to read about the other symptoms of sleep apnea and talk to your doctor.
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