Love Your Heart: Problems Caused by Sleep Apnea

by / / Tips

Does your partner keep waking you up because of your loud snoring at night? Do you get tired quickly during the day and feel irritable? Do you have difficulty concentrating on work? If you answered yes to the above questions, there is a chance that you may have sleep apnea.

big red heart on dark background

Sleep apnea often goes undiagnosed, but can be a potentially life-threatening condition. It is in one’s best interest to get tested for this condition as soon as possible, when symptoms are present, because it can lead to serious heart problems.

5 Heart Complications Due to Sleep Apnea

Let’s take a closer look at this condition. Sleep apnea is a condition which causes the muscles at the back of the throat to fold, blocking the airway passage and stopping breathing several times at night.

Every time this happens, the brain sends out an alarm signal to the respiratory system that something’s not right. As a result, loud, wheezy breathing and sudden body jerks occur that can wake the person up.

This also prompts the blood vessels to constrict and tighten up in order to increase the flow of oxygen to the heart.

Unfortunately, this leads to several heart complications such as the following:


Whenever the body goes through an apnea event, there is a significant drop in blood oxygen levels, resulting in an increase in blood pressure. Normal people who are asleep will usually experience a drop of up to 20% in their blood pressure.

People who have sleep apnea are completely the opposite, and experience an increase of up to 20% in their blood pressure.

Unfortunately, this medical condition does not allow the blood pressure to revert back to normal levels during daytime, so a person suffering from sleep apnea, will have a high level of blood pressure at all times.

Atrial fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation is a type of arrhythmia, where the heart beats either too fast or too slow. A normal person’s heart will contract and relax according to a regular rhythm.

However, a person who has atrial fibrillation has an irregular heartbeat and fast pulse. Symptoms could include heart palpitations, shortness of breath, and dizziness.


Stroke is the brain’s equivalent of a heart attack. The brain needs to have oxygen in order to properly function, but if blood vessels become narrow or clogged, the oxygen-carrying blood will not be able to flow to the brain. Without oxygen, the brain cells will die and the patient will have a stroke.

People with sleep apnea are predisposed to stroke because the repetitive decrease in oxygen places a lot of stress on the heart and the brain.

Pulmonary hypertension

Sleep apnea has been associated with pulmonary hypertension, which is a type of high blood pressure that affects the lungs and the right side of the heart.

The pulmonary arteries, located in the lungs, are the blood vessels that carry the blood from the heart to the lungs. If the arteries become narrowed or get blocked, blood is not able to flow freely, causing the heart to work even harder.

Coronary artery disease

CAD occurs whenever the blood vessels that carry oxygen-rich blood to the heart become narrow and clogged, slowing down the flow of blood to the heart. If left untreated, coronary artery disease can lead to an angina, a heart attack, or a stroke.

The conditions that happen during apnea episodes put a lot of stress on the heart due to the increase in heart rate and blood pressure.

While these conditions are dangerous, they can be prevented by identifying Sleep Apnea symptoms early, and treating them properly. If you think you may be suffering from this condition, reach out to the sleep professionals at SleepRite who will observe you in our sleep lab, in order to diagnose your condition.

Take steps to treat the problem before it gets worse. Your family loves you, so you owe it to them and yourself to love your heart!