Untreated Sleep Apnea May Boost Cardiovascular Risk after Angioplasty

Middle-aged man getting a nap

A new study found an association between sleep-breathing problems and high risk of heart disease and stroke.

BEACON TRANSCRIPTJapanese researchers found a link between breathing problems during sleep including snoring and apnea and a high risk of having a stroke or developing a heart condition in patients who had underwent angioplasty.

Angioplasty is a surgical procedure aimed at clearing blood vessels from dangerous plaque which obstructs the blood flow through arteries and thus ups the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure.

The study found that Japanese patients who underwent the procedure had a double risk of developing heart failure, having a heart attack or stroke over the next half decade if they also had sleep apnea.

Dr. Toru Mazaki of the Kobe Central Hospital in Japan and lead author of the study explained that sleep apnea is often tied to inflammatory processes throughout the body which could have a negative impact on one’s heart in the long run.

Patients diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea experience breathing problems during sleep such as the breathing stopping for a few seconds because the airway gets blocked by the tissue in the throat. Such incidents can happen several times during sleep leaving the person oxygen deprived and tired the next day.

Snoring also involves a blockage f the airways but only partially. But snoring also deprives the patient of oxygen and it may affect the quality of sleep.

The recent findings are consistent with past research which had also revealed a link between sleep apnea and heightened cardiovascular risk.

In their study, the research team monitored 241 patients that had the artery-clearing procedure. Some of the patients even had a stent placed within their severely damaged arteries to keep them open.

Each person was monitored during sleep through breathing and heart monitors. About half of patients had sleep apnea i.e. they had at least five disrupted breathing incidents every hour.

Next, study authors kept an eye on each patient for heart disease risk for about 5 years. During that time period, 10 people from the sleep apnea group and three people who had no sleep-breathing problems died.

Furthermore, 20 percent of sleep apnea patients had a heart attack or stroke during that time. By contrast, only 8 percent of patients who had no breathing disorders during sleep had a major adverse event affecting their heart or circulatory system.

The study was published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

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