The Link Between Snoring and High Blood Pressure
The Link Between Snoring and High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is present in 1 out of every 3 American adults and most don’t even know they have this condition. However, ignoring hypertension can lead to more serious cases and sometimes even death.
The same is almost true for snoring, a condition that’s too common that people forget it’s not natural for anyone to snore while sleeping.
It has associations with serious conditions like sleep apnea, causing disruption in a person’s everyday way of life.
Even fewer know that snoring and high blood pressure have a connection. How so?
Let’s discuss what these conditions are and how one leads to the other. Read on to find out if you’re at risk and what steps you should take to lessen that risk.
Snoring and Sleep Apnea
Snoring may be a normal yet annoying part of the night of some people, but no one should brush it off as a simple bad habit.
This condition happens when there’s an obstruction in the airway, creating an unpleasant sound as the afflicted person breathes while sleeping.
Most people have experienced snoring once or a few times in their lifetime.
A sinus infection, like a cold, can cause the occasional snoring.
As the relaxation of the throat can partially block the airway, relaxants like alcohol, drugs, and even sleep deprivation might induce random snoring as well. However, it may also be a sign of a more serious medical condition, or it may be the first indication of sleep apnea.
If it comes with other symptoms, such as one or more of the items below, it’s better to make that trip to the doctor to make sure.
- Excessive sleepiness during daytime
- Difficulty in concentrating
- Headaches in the morning
- A sore throat in the morning
- Restless sleep
- Pauses during breathing at night
Obstructive sleep apnea, in particular, interrupts the breathing during sleep. This might happen several times in a night, and a huge number of people don’t know that they have this condition.
If a doctor suspects OSA, they might recommend a sleep study where the patient will stay in a sleep lab overnight so that machines can record the sleeping patterns.
These conditions can also cause high blood pressure, a key factor in the increased risk of stroke, heart attack, and kidney disease.
Snoring and High Blood Pressure
For years, scientists have confirmed the correlation between snoring and high blood pressure.
A majority of studies focus on how hypertension develops from oxygen decrease in the blood.
The obstructed airway makes it harder to keep up an adequate supply during sleep, which normally lasts for several hours. The brain then tries to solve the perceived problem on its own by flooding adrenaline through the bloodstream, waking up the person who will then grasp for dear life before going back to sleep.
The adrenaline, however, raises the blood pressure. As people with OSA stop breathing for several seconds every night, the blood pressure fluctuates at night.
When this happens night after night, sometimes for several years, sleep-disordered breathing can eventually cause high blood pressure that’s hard to treat.
The constantly disturbed sleep can also contribute to weight gain, which is also a factor in the raised blood pressure.
If you’re struggling with hypertension, you might also want to talk with your doctor about snoring.
High Blood Pressure Risks
Edward O. Bixler, a Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine professor who’s studying the association of snoring and high blood pressure, validated these findings.
He confirmed that sleep apnea does increase the risk for high blood pressure. In his team’s study, the researchers phoned 16,000 people and asked them about their sleep patterns. They then chose 1,700 from that group who are at risk for breathing problems.
The team gave the participants a physical exam and had them stay overnight in a sleep lab to observe their breathing patterns. They found that sleep apnea, and even just snoring, have associations with hypertension.
According to Bixler, those who snore without sleep apnea are 1.5 times more likely to develop high blood pressure, while those with sleep apnea have nearly 7 times the risk.
The strength of the association of snoring and high blood pressure decreases as one gets older, which means that young people are more at risk, even when they’re simply snoring.
That’s not saying that old people have less of a need to worry, though. As people age, other things can cause hypertension instead.
Why You Should Worry About High Blood Pressure
Snoring and high blood pressure are similar in a way that both are often left with no treatment for a long time.
People often dub it the silent killer because patients won’t experience symptoms until the blood pressure reaches 180/120 mmHg, which is already a medical emergency. At which point, they may experience one or more of the following symptoms:
- Double or blurred vision
Hypertension can directly cause death or contribute to it, usually by causing other deadly conditions, such as a cardiovascular disease or heart failure.
It can also lead to an aneurysm, kidney disease, metabolic syndrome, damage to the vital organs, and brain problems.
The severity of these complications can depend on how long high blood pressure remains out of sight. If you have a problem with snoring, it wouldn’t hurt to visit your doctor to check your blood pressure and get treatment for it as soon as possible.
A diagnosis of high blood pressure will force you to make a few lifestyle changes and take medications.
Following the physician’s advice should help lower your blood pressure, but sometimes, this condition can be extremely difficult to control.
Some doctors have found that those with treatment-resistant hypertension had sleep apnea, as well, strengthening the association between the two.
This brings us to a viable treatment of hypertension: treating the underlying cause, which is sleep apnea.
Treating Sleep Apnea to Treat High Blood Pressure
If OSA causes high blood pressure, then treating it should also treat hypertension as well, right? Well, that’s what a 2014 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association sought to find out.
In the study, researchers assembled almost 200 people of both genders with the condition and had them undergo a standard treatment for OSA. The men and women both underwent CPAP therapy, in which they wore a mask with a hose that delivered pressurized air from a motor. This was meant to clear the obstruction in the airway.
After 12 weeks, the participants had lower blood pressure and a better blood pressure nighttime pattern. At the end of the study, the team concluded that treating OSA did help patients manage their treatment-resistant hypertension better.
Even without hypertension, CPAP also helps people with OSA lead a better daytime life by easing the symptoms. It should also help them get a good night’s sleep, which will make them healthier overall.
There are other treatments for OSA, so if you’re not comfortable sleeping with a mask on, ask about other options.
You may also try the following lifestyle changes as well.
Treating Snoring and High Blood Pressure
Those without sleep apnea can’t use CPAP, but as snoring can increase the risk for high blood pressure, they have to treat snoring instead.
Follow these tips to decrease snoring and high blood pressure together, for the good of those sleeping next to you and yourself.
Don’t Sleep on Your Back
Sleeping on the back can collapse the base of the tongue and the soft palate, causing that vibrating sound as you sleep. Sleep on your side instead or recline the bed to elevate your head. However, the latter option might lead to neck pains.
Avoid Alcohol and Drugs
As we’ve said above, alcohol and drugs relax the muscles in the throat, causing an obstruction. If you’re not a snorer, drinking alcohol 4 to 5 hours before bedtime will most likely cause you to snore. If you already have the condition, the drink will make it worse. This shouldn’t be a problem if you only go for a drink very rarely.
Take a Hot Shower Before Bed
Opening up the nasal passages before sleeping can help prevent snoring, and the best way to do that is by taking a hot shower. If you have a cold, you may also rinse your nose with a saltwater solution while you’re in the shower. A nasal strip can also work but only if the problem is solely in your nose.
If you have an obstruction in the soft palate, this won’t help.
Shed Some Pounds
Gaining weight may be a factor of snoring and high blood pressure, especially if the patient didn’t have the condition before. In that case, losing weight may lessen snoring.
Note that weight doesn’t necessarily play a factor. Thin people can have snoring problems, too.
Drink Plenty of Water
The secretions in the airway can thicken because of dehydration, which will then partially block the nose and the soft palate. If you’re drinking 8 glasses of water a day, that might not be enough as it’s an outdated belief.
The latest recommendation from the Institute of Medicine says that on average, men should have an intake of about 16 cups and 11 cups for women. That’s including water from food, which constitutes about 20% of the daily water intake.
The Best Solution for Snoring and High Blood Pressure
Wondering which solution for snoring and high blood pressure is the right one for you? Check out our blog and learn about the best products, aids, and methods to stop snoring. Get in touch with us now if you need additional information. We’ll be happy to help.
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