Over 18 million Americans are affected by sleep apnea, with an estimated 10 million others undiagnosed. There are varying reasons for why people develop sleep apnea, but one recent study found a correlation between sleep disorders and increased risk for heart problems.

Sleep Disorders and Increased Risk for Heart Problems

A new study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association reported that there is a higher risk of stroke, death, and heart failure for people who suffer from sleep disorders, after having an angioplasty performed on them.

Toru Mazaki, the study author and chief physician of the Department of Cardiology at Kobe Central Hospital in Kobe, Japan reported that “There is limited awareness of sleep-disordered breathing among cardiologists who care for PCI patients.”

PCI refers to percutaneous coronary intervention, or an angioplasty. PCI’s are performed when a condition known as acute coronary syndrome occurs where the blood supply to the heart is blocked abruptly. An angioplasty helps to reopen the arteries by placing a catheter inside of it, allowing blood to flow through.

For the study, the research group studied 241 patients with acute coronary syndrome for nearly 5 and a half years, tracking their breathing, strokes, deaths, heart failure, and possible repeated signs of acute coronary syndromes.

Over the course of the study, the researchers discovered that there is a strong correlation between sleep disorders and increased risk for heart problems. They found that 52% of the patients had sleep-disordered breathing, with 21.4% of those patients experiencing serious cardiovascular problems during the time.

Additionally, a mere 7.8% of the patients without sleep-disordered breathing experienced serious cardiovascular problems.

The numbers provide a clear indication that sleep disorders and increased risk for heart problems are not to be taken lightly, and that those who have acute coronary syndrome are at a far greater risk of developing sleeping disorders than those who do not.

In regards to the studies findings, Mazaki commented they “suggest that sleep-disordered breathing is an important risk factor for stroke, heart failure and more after PCI for acute coronary syndrome. Doctors and patients should consider sleep studies post-PCI to rule out sleep-disordered breathing or take necessary precautions to restore healthy breathing during sleep.”

More sleep study’s and clinical trials need to be performed on those who are post-angioplasty in order to learn if this is a regular pattern, but Mazaki recommends that monitoring breathing during sleep for such patients should be routine throughout hospitals.

Not only are heart disease, strokes, and heart attacks serious health issues, sleep apnea can also be deadly and create further health problems.

In order to prevent greater health risks from heart complications, take care of your heart by eating healthy foods, regularly exercising, cutting down on sugar and salt, and monitoring your blood pressure.