Snoring increases risk of heart attack, stroke – Expert

A consultant Ear, Nose, and Throat surgeon, Dr. Olanrewaju Idris, has advised individuals that snore to seek medical intervention, warning that it increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, and other debilitating health challenges.

He said the condition was abnormal and should not be taken for granted.

The surgeon pointed out that whether asleep or awake, breathing should not be associated with any sound or noise.

Dr. Idris, who works at the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, Kwara State, during an interview with PUNCH Healthwise, urged those that snore to seek medical evaluation from medical experts that could prescribe the best form of treatment to them.

According to an online health portal, Cleveland Clinic, snoring occurs when something restricts airflow during sleep.

“Loud or long-term snoring increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, and other health problems. You may be able to stop snoring by losing weight and avoiding alcohol before bed. If snoring keeps you awake or disrupts your partner’s sleep, talk to your provider about treatments”, it added.

Dr. Idris noted that, ironically, most people that snore are not aware and only get to know when they are told or a video recorded while they are asleep is shown to them.

“Snoring is not normal. The fundamental thing is that breathing should not be associated with any sound. Snoring occurs because there is a partial obstruction to the passage of air, which results in turbulent airflow.

“That is where the noise comes from. Once the air going into the body is not enough, then the person will have what is called hypoxia – a low level of oxygen supply. And when that happens, it can affect the lungs and cause hypertension in the lungs. If nothing is done about it, the right side of the heart that usually pumps blood to the lungs can fail”, he said.

The ENT expert warned that if the condition was not addressed, it could kill the person, stressing that snoring causes social problems between individuals and the people around them.

The physician pointed out that snoring could also affect a person’s daily activities.

He said, “You can imagine a driver that didn’t get enough rest at night due to snoring sleeping behind the wheels, or someone handling a heavy-duty machine sleeping while working.

“Because of low oxygen levels, during the day, the person will not be very active and while driving, the person can sleep off and have an accident.”

Dr. Idris said increasing age, alcohol consumption, male gender, and being overweight predispose people to the condition, adding that it is more common in older people.

On interventions, the surgeon said treatment for snoring is individualised, and that some people might just need lifestyle modification to address the condition depending on the cause.

“Evaluate first and then prescribe the best form of treatment to the person.

“People need medical evaluation to ascertain what is causing the obstruction. Treatment is individualized. We have lifestyle modification and reconstructive surgery,” he added.

According to the Sleep Foundation, snoring is caused by the rattling and vibration of tissues near the airway at the back of the throat.

“During sleep, the muscles loosen, narrowing the airways, and as we inhale and exhale, the moving air causes the tissue to flutter and make a noise like having a flag in the breeze.

“Some people are more prone to snoring because of the size and shape of the muscle and tissues in their neck. In other cases, excess relaxation of the tissue or narrowing of the airway can lead to snoring.

“Knowing the basics about snoring — what causes it, when it’s dangerous, how to treat it, and how to cope with it.”

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