How you sleep is a major determinant of how well your heart functions. A new study carried out on cardiac patients at the Sir Gangaram Hospital here revealed that around 96 percent of patients who have cardiovascular problems have sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea, which is clinically called Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome (OSAS), is a type of disorder characterized by pauses in breathing or instances of shallow or infrequent breathing during sleep.
“Lack of sleep is directly related to cardiac diseases,” Sanjay Manchanda, head of Sir Gangaram Hospital’s Department of Sleep Medicine, told IANS.
“Quality of sleep is very important. A good night’s sleep prevents heart attacks, diabetes as well as road accidents.”
The study, carried out by the hospital in collaboration with Philips Healthcare, also proves the correlation between lack of sleep and heart ailments.
It said that 58 percent of patients of cardiovascular disorders had severe sleep apnea and an estimated 85 percent of them were not aware that sleep apnea and
cardiovascular diseases were correlated.
Removing some of the myths associated with sleep apnea, the study further said that there is no correlation between weight and extent of sleep apnea.
Even thin patients can develop the disorder.
The severity of sleep apnea in cardiac patients was found to increase with age, the study said.
Sleep apnea involves cessation of airflow for 10 seconds or more during the night due to partial or full collapse of the airway in human beings. The reduced or absent airflow results in high carbon dioxide and low oxygen.
The sufferer is forced to increase his breathing effort against the collapsed airway. This means that the sufferer arouses to a lighter stage of sleep, which
leads to sleep fragmentation and the person wakes up unrefreshed.
Added Manchanda: “It is by far the single most common disorder seen at sleep centres and is responsible for more mortality and morbidity than any other sleep disorder.”
He said though there are many reasons that can lead to sleep apnea like alcohol, smoking and use of sedatives, in some people it is due to the structure of their
throat and the upper part of their body.
Snoring, the doctor said, is just an indication of the condition.
According to J.P.S. Sawhney, chairman of the cardiology department at Sir Gangaram Hospital, sleep apnea as a disease is grossly untreated.
He said its correlation with cardiac disease has not been understood by the public as yet.
However, the doctors said that the condition is easily treatable.
Surgical intervention or a machine called C-Pap which ensures trouble-free breathing during the night, can easily help patients.
The C-Pap, one of the most common treatments, derives its name from the application of “continuous positive airway pressure” (or forcing air) through a patient’s nose to prevent limp throat muscles from closing off the airway.
The price of the machines, which have several variants, range between Rs. 35,000 and Rs. 90,000.