Sleep apnea, the disorder that causes snorting and snoring due to a blockage of air passageways, is more than just an annoyance: it is a risk factor for strokes. It is unknown exactly how many people have apnea because many cases go undiagnosed. The disorder is defined as any disruption to breathing during sleep that causes full or partial blockage of the airways. Partial blockage results in snoring; full blockage causes you to stop breathing (often waking up in the process).
There are two types of apnea, the more common being obstructive sleep apnea. Though one of the main causes of sleep apnea in the United States is obesity, this large study of both men and women found that the stroke risk was independent of obesity, smoking, high blood pressure and diabetes.
Sleep apnea has already been linked to high blood pressure and heart disease risks, but this is the first study to link the disorder to risk of strokes, as well.
The study was released by the Sleep Heart Health Study, a multi-center research project out of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Findings were published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. This study is one of many to come out of the Institute, who's been tracking the health risks associated with breathing problems for the better part of a decade.
Men were found to be hit hardest; apnea added 10 years to the afflicted man's life. The question that remains is if treating sleep apnea could prevent strokes.
The easiest remedy for sleep apnea is finding the right pillow. Many who suffer from apnea have reported finding comfort in memory foam. Memory foam pillows mold do the shape of your head, neck and shoulders, allowing for better natural alignment of the air passageways. Though a memory foam pillow
won't cure apnea it can help the passages from collapsing during the night.
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