Is snoring dangerous?

Snoring is very disturbing to others and distressing to the snorer.
Heavy snoring can be a symptom of obstructive sleep apnea, a condition that is
potentially dangerous and can be life threatening. Some of the more serious
manifestations of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) are:

  • weight gain
  • irritability
  • fatigue
  • morning headaches
  • attention deficit
  • poor memory increased sick time
  • poor job performance
  • decreased interest in sex
  • hypertension
  • heart disease
  • accidents on the job site
  • accidents while driving

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is directly associated with heart diseases:

  • congestive heart failure
  • pulmonary hypertension
  • cardiac arrhythmia
  • ischemic heart disease
  • stroke

A major study has found that moderate snorers were at 4.8 times greater risk of death from heart attacks and far from just being an inconvenience, amusing, or a nuisance, snoring could be the important early warning of serious life-threatening health problems.

The research study from the USA, where they lead the world in research on sleep disorders, conclusively shows that snoring can cause a thickening of the arteries; a condition that leads on to brain haemorrhages, strokes and heart attacks. It very clearly showed that Snorers are more likely to have thickening or abnormalities in the carotid artery that supplies the brain with oxygenated blood.

Around a quarter of women and four in ten men are frequent snorers, although nearly half of us snore occasionally. Though it can interfere with our sleep – and that of our partners – it was not thought to cause any long-term health problems until recently.American researchers claim the condition is as serious as having high blood pressure and urge snorers to seek medical advice.

After filling in detailed questionnaires about their snoring habits they were then given ultrasound scans to look at the thickness of their carotid artery and the evidence was conclusive. It was found that the inner layers of the artery walls were far thicker among the snorers than the other adults. It is thought that the thickening of the artery may be caused by the constant vibrations of the snoring which results in inflammation.

Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, who led the research said: ‘Our study adds to the growing body of evidence suggesting isolated snoring may not be as benign as first suspected. Their recommendation is as follows: ‘Instead of kicking your snoring bed partner out of the room or spending sleepless nights elbowing them, seek out medical treatment for the snorer.

We are hoping to change the thinking so patients can get the early treatment they need, before more serious health issues arise. Snoring is more than a bedtime annoyance and it shouldn’t be ignored.’

Reference: The Daily Mail, 26th January 2013