The side effects of sleep apnea have been shown to be very hard on the heart muscle. Many people who have sleep apnea tend to show signs of heart arrhythmias or high blood pressure. There also seems to be a link between sleep apnea and congestive heart failure. Many studies have shown that people with congestive heart failure (CHF) are more likely to have sleep apnea. Many patients who have CHF have never been tested for sleep apnea. However, approximately 40% of those people do suffer from mild to severe sleep apnea. It is important that if you have CHF you get tested and treated for sleep apnea.
When a person suffers from sleep apnea the body is under large amounts of stress during sleep. This stress can force the heart to beat more quickly or forcefully in order to maintain the body’s blood flow. People with sleep apnea also tend to have low blood-oxygen levels; this is also hard on the heart, which can be deprived of oxygen during the night. These side effects can be very dangerous for someone who has congestive heart failure. With congestive heart failure the heart muscle is already weak and struggles to do its job.
Many people have noticed an improvement in their heart problems once their sleep apnea has been treated. Use of CPAP to stop sleep apnea alleviates the stress put on the heart during sleep and allows it to rest and recover from the day. Studies have shown that use of the CPAP to treat sleep apnea in CHF patients has led to an improvement in blood pressure as well as cardiac function. Also, it seems that the mortality rate in people with CHF tends to be lower for those who have treated their sleep apnea than for those who have left it untreated. If you have CHF and are concerned that you may have sleep apnea, talk to your doctor about having a sleep study.