Why Sleep Apnea is Hurting Your Heart

Picture this: You are sound asleep, dreaming of a beach paradise, when all a suddenly your partner is shaking you awake. You look at them through bloodshot eyes, and they explain -for the tenth time that night- that you have been snoring. You nod sleepily, change your position, and go back to bed…only to get up that next morning to worship your coffee like a god because it is the only thing that will keep you awake that day.

Sound familiar? Well you are not alone! According to the American Sleep Apnea Association 22 Million Americans suffer from sleep apnea, and the American Heart Association states that 1 in 5 adults suffer from, at the very least, mild sleep apnea. Evidence of this can be seen in a variety of ways, as you would know from previous posts. Symptoms range from daytime fatigue, insomnia, snoring in the night, headaches, mood swings, and more. For those of us who are used to no sleep, however, this can seem like not a big deal.

“So what if I’m always tired,” we tell ourselves. “Lack of sleep won’t kill me!” The only problem with this mentality is the less sleep you have the more certain science has become that it will, in fact, effect your heart.

The American College of Cardiology, The American Academy of Sleep Medicine, and even the American Heart Association have all linked sleep apnea with heart conditions. The AHA even states on their site that sleep apnea has been linked to arrhythmia, high blood pressure, stroke, and even heart failure. In fact, another study confirmed that male adults age 30-70 were at an extremely high risk of having a stroke or heart attack if they already had obstructive sleep apnea. Snoring in particular is a great sign you have obstructive sleep apnea, yet snoring is not your only problem. Central sleep apnea (which in my personal opinion is far harder to detect and is more damaging) rarely even presents itself through snoring. In fact, while obstructive sleep apnea is more common among over weight individuals, central sleep apnea can present itself in all shapes and sizes, which is a problem.

Experts agree that sleep apnea begets high blood pressure, and vise versa. It becomes a never-ending cycle of health problems and brings one closer to ever serious heart complications. Statics even show that 30-50% of adults with high blood pressure will have sleep apnea. With this news it can be overwhelming! It can almost feel like if you won the unlucky cosmic lottery and now if you have sleep apnea, or high blood pressure, you are doomed to have a lifetime of health problems along with a shorter lifespan which begs the question: What am I left to do?

The solutions may not be easy, but thankfully they are simple.

  1. Exercise

I’ve heard it, you’ve heard it, we’ve all heard it! If I had a dime every time my physician told me I need to get physically active, I’d be rich…Unfortunately they are right.  Exercise is important for all aspects of your health and it is also very important for those with sleep apnea. Making sure you throw in cardio will also give you the double benefit of keeping your heart healthy, so get running!

  1. Limit Alcohol and Avoid Caffeine Before Bed

We all love our beer, but our beer does not love us. Same goes for that double-crossing coffee cup! If you are pulling a late night for work, or if you are wanting something to relax you when you get home from that same job you may want to reach for a cup of decaffeinated tea instead. It comes in a lot of great flavors, and chamomile may even give you the added benefit of helping you sleep later that night!

  1. Get a CPAP Machine

Out of all of these options, this may be the most important. CPAP machines, or Continuous Positive Airway Pressure machines, really save lives by keeping you breathing at night and helping you stay asleep. The American College of Cardiology has even gone as far as to state that treatment lowers high blood pressure! You will need to talk to your doctor and schedule a sleep study, or take a home sleep test, which will let you know exactly what therapy is right for you. Once you have learned what type of sleep apnea you have and what type of machine you need, ask about what features you can get and determine what is right for you and your budget. And of course, those of us at Respshop.com are always here to help you with any questions you may have and can easily be reached at 866-936-3754.

 

It is almost a universal truth that sleep apnea is hard to live with. It makes us tired, it makes us cranky when we least expect it, and it can affect our health. However, it is manageable! Through proper life changes, open conversations with our doctors, and CPAPs we can take back control of our lives and our health. We can even make our hearts healthier one night’s sleep at a time.

Sleep Apnea & Women

There is one universal truth for every working woman: That alarm clock rings just way too early! Often, it seems, you can go through the day groggy, tired, and a little irritable at times. This appears to be normal, but when the third coffee cup just doesn’t seem to cut it many people are often left to wonder if this guise of “normal” really isn’t normal at all.

The simple answer, however, is nothing more than a suspicious maybe; The straight forward answer is a little more complicated than that.

For women especially, sleep apnea is hard to diagnose. Not only are symptoms often different than a man’s, but according to the National Sleep Foundation oftentimes sleep apnea for a woman is misdiagnosed. In fact, they have stated that 8-9 men per 1 woman were originally diagnosed, and while research is showing that gap is closing there are still women who are getting missed. Though these patients who fall through the gaps are facing more than just lack of sleep. Depression, complications in pregnancies and menopause, heart disease, diabetes, and even a shortened life span are all side effects of sleep apnea. So, what’s a lady to do?

Well, first, you can recognize the symptoms. As stated prior, sleep apnea is often quite different in women, so while a woman can have the traditional symptoms like snoring, often their symptoms are less pronounced. Symptoms to look for are:

  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Morning Headaches
  • Mood Disturbances
  • Restless Legs at Night
  • Depression
  • Lack of Energy
  • Light or even Subtle Snoring
  • Tiny Breaks in Breathing at Night

These symptoms can present themselves as many things, which is a leading reason for misdiagnosis,however, one should still remind their doctor not to rule out sleep apnea if you have one or multiple of these symptoms. sleep apnea is common with ¼ of women over 65 estimated to have this problem, and with 14% of them experiencing severe sleep apnea. Still, sleep apnea affects all ages so if you are having symptoms don’t wait to talk to your doctor.

So, you’re a woman and you think you might have sleep apnea. What now? In this case you would request a sleep study. If you’re short on time or can’t get your insurance to pay for one RespShop does offer our own sleep study for as low as $249. Sleep studies are crucial to understanding how severe your sleep apnea is, what type you have, and how to best combat it. If it is determined that you do, in fact, have sleep apnea you will be presented with a shiny new prescription and with this you can finally move on to your last step: Buying the right equipment!

What you need and what you should buy all depends on the aforementioned prescription. If you have central sleep apnea you will need a BiPAP/BiLevel machine. However, if you have the more common Obstructive sleep apnea a manual or Auto will be more appropriate, again depending on your prescription. However, if you have Obstructive sleep apnea and are a woman you are in luck.

The Airsense 10 Autoset for Her

Realizing the difference in Women’s sleep apnea, ResMed rose to the challenge of creating the first machines made specifically for women. This machine is one of the first such machines! The Airsense 10 Autoset for her uses a specialized algorithm that can detect an episode in a single breath. This allows the CPAP to adjust as needed to what you need that night! It also comes with an EPR feature- or Expiratory Pressure Relief- that allows the machine to adjust for comfortability! Other great features include the RAMP, Mask Fitting Feature, and Smart Start/Stop! Added to the ResMed AirView data sharing service, which is free with this machine, and you (and your doctor) will love how easy it is to get readings, adjust therapy, and get you sleeping like a baby again!

For Her Mask Line by ResMed

ResMed did not stop with the CPAP machine, they also completely revamped the mask sizing. Since sleep apnea was wrongly considered a “man’s disease” for many years sizing was, in most part, designed for men. Realizing the folly with this mindset ResMed got to work creating Full Face, Nasal, and Nasal pillow masks designed specifically for Women’s more petite facial features. Because of this, if you have ever had problem finding a mask that fit your face, we would highly recommend trying the For Her line.

Cleaning and Storing your CPAP

As a new CPAP user, the thought of cleaning my mask and tube each morning seemed annoying at best.

If I was someone who showered in the morning, I would consider taking my tube and mask into the shower with me and just hanging it there to dry, but since I shower at night, this would not work for me. Since I like things to be as efficient as possible, so I devised a plan.

I had purchased a storage trolley a while back and it came in very handy for storing my CPAP and supplies.   The CPAP sits on the second shelf making it the perfect height for the CPAP as the machine should sit just below your mattress.  The mesh bottom of the compartments allow air to flow nicely around the machine at night and allows my mask, tubing and humidifier to dry well after washing.  I just roll this trolley with everything I need from my bed into my bathroom.  The bottom shelf holds a big bowl with all my cleaning supplies and towel.

I also like the trolley idea since it allows me to roll it into the closet and out of sight!

Cleaning your equipment is easy enough once you have a plan!

What is Sleeptember?

You may have been hearing chatter around the web about the Sleeptember campaign. If you’re not sure what that is, don’t worry — you’re not alone. Sleeptember is a social media campaign designed to raise awareness about the connection between sleep health and general well-being. Participants are encouraged to post on their personal social media accounts and to ask for donations from friends and family members to fund awareness and research efforts. The organizers of Sleeptember state that their goal is to change the way people look at sleep, improving the sleep and health habits of society as a whole.

Whos behind the movement?

 

Sleeptember is a program designed by the American Sleep Apnea Association (ASAA) and its partners. The ASAA is a patient-led 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that was founded in 1990 with the goal of promoting awareness of sleep apnea and finding ways to improve treatments. In addition to members of the ASAA, Sleeptember coordinators include patients suffering from chronic health conditions, their advocates, various non-profit organizations, sleep experts and more. The diverse group of individuals work together towards the common goal of raising awareness of sleep-related health issues while simultaneously fundraising for research efforts.

The people behind the Sleeptember movement have successfully created a social media campaign that depends on small-scale networking. This model has proven to be very successful in the past in both raising awareness and raising money. Individuals are encouraged to join the movement and then share the group’s core message with their friends and family while posting links to fundraising websites.

Should you get involved?

If you’re comfortable asking friends and family for donations while you post about health conditions on your social media channels, you may be a great candidate for joining the movement. While you certainly don’t need a large list of friends or followers to make a difference, the more people that see your fundraising link, the more successful the campaign will be.

In addition to advocacy efforts, the group behind Sleeptember also promises that participants will get to engage in fun activities and events. These events and activities help forge personal connections and make people feel more connected to the movement. They’re also a fun way to reward people for their hard work and involvement.

How can you help?

Share, share, share! Because Sleeptember is a social media campaign, its success depends on people sharing fundraising links and spreading information. Encourage your friends and family to join the movement and educate those around you on the importance of getting enough sleep. Whether you suffer from a sleep disorder, know someone who does or have only heard about sleep disorders in passing, Sleeptember is a cause you can get behind. Get educated and educate others on the importance of sleep and the detrimental effects of too little sleep. Share the Sleeptember campaign with friends and family, and encourage them to donate to raise funds for research and advocacy programs. No matter how many friends or followers you have, you can make a difference. There’s power in numbers and every advocate counts.

The way we think about sleep is about to change and the Sleeptember campaign is leading the way. The people behind Sleeptember are passionate about making sure people get the sleep they need to stay healthy and are working hard to bring awareness to society. Joining the Sleeptember movement is easy and anyone can make a difference with just a few minutes of their time.