Women might need to get that snoring checked. A new study reveals that obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA, could lead to heart disease.
A team of researchers from the Radiological Society of North America and the University of Munich said that women who have OSA are at risk of an earlier impairment of cardiac function compared to men. Moreover, the study suggested that OSA might be underdiagnosed among snorers.
OSA is the most common but also the most dangerous sleep disorder. It occurs when the throat muscles relax while a person sleeps, blocking the airway.
Loud snoring is one of the most obvious signs of OSA, but the person who has the disorder might also experience fatigue, dry mouth, and irritability due to lack of sleep.
Finding A Link Between Snoring And Heart Diseases
Researchers used data from the UK Biobank, a health resource that follows the well-being of over 500,000 volunteers across the United Kingdom. For this study, they looked at the data of nearly 5,000 people who have a cardiac MRI.
Of that number, 118 patients have OSA while 1,886 have self-reported snoring. Those who neither have OSA nor snore make up 2,477 patients. Nearly 400 patients did not meet the requirements needed for the research.
Both male and female participants with OSA have larger left ventricles of the heart, which means that the heart is working harder to pump blood. However, when the data from self-diagnosed snorers to those who do not snore, the researchers found a more significant difference between the two group. This suggests that there might be a lot more cases of OSA within the group, but undiagnosed by a professional.
"We found that the cardiac parameters in women appear to be more easily affected by the disease and that women who snore or have OSA might be at greater risk for cardiac involvement," stated Adrian Curta, a radiology resident at Munich University Hospital and the author of the study. "We also found that the prevalence of diagnosed OSA in the study group was extremely low. Together with the alterations in cardiac function in the snoring group, it leads us to believe that OSA may be grossly underdiagnosed."
How To Stop OSA, Snoring
The researchers suggest that snorers get their condition checked with a healthcare provider. To diagnose sleep apnea, professionals record the number of times that the patient slowed or stopped breathing during sleep.
According to Mayo Clinic, OSA can be treated starting with lifestyle and dietary changes, including losing weight, exercising regularly, and avoiding alcohol and cigarette smoking. Several therapies are also available for those who suffer from the disorder.