Snoring Increases Risk Of Cardiovascular Disease
New research, conducted by the Henry Ford Hospital sleep center, indicates that snoring is a contributor to cardiovascular disease, because it thickens the carotid arteries, the main arteries to the head and neck. The researchers warn that snoring is, in fact, a greater risk for atherosclerosis than smoking or obesity.
Robert Deeb, M.D., and Kathleen Yaremchuk, M.D, the study authors, reported their findings at the 2013 Combined Sections Meeting of the Triological Society in Scottsdale, Arizona. They also submitted their research to The Laryngoscope for publication.
Fifty-four of 914 participants in sleep studies conducted by the Henry Ford Hospital's sleep center between 2006 and 2012 responded to a survey recording their snoring habits. These volunteers underwent a carotid artery duplex ultrasound, a test measuring the thickness of the carotid arteries, and the results indicated that their carotid artery walls were significantly thicker than those who did not snore. They were even thicker than those with traditional carotic artery disease, such as persons who smoked, had high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes.
What happens when you snore is that the walls of the pharynx, including the soft palate, relax and narrow the opening of the back of the mouth and pharynx. Those walls get very close to each other and touch, even slightly, to cause vibrations as the air passes through - the noise we call snoring. The impact of these vibrations are felt by the carotid arteries as well as other blood vessels in the head and neck and seem, according to this study, to result in enlargements of the vessel walls.
Though sleep apnea, which can cut off breathing, sometimes for several seconds, is an acknowledged threat to cardiovascular health, snoring itself has been regarded more as an annoyance, more threatening to conjugal relationships than to health. More evidence, such as this study, and the one planned by Deeb and Yaremchuk to see if there is a link between cardiovascular event rates and snoring, will determine how seriously the medical community at large considers the seriousness of snoring treatments.
For more information about snoring, its potential causes, and snoring therapies, visit the Mayo Clinic online.