A heart attack occurs when an artery to the heart becomes totally blocked and the blood flow to part of the heart stops. This causes a deprivation of oxygen to the heart and part of the heart muscle starts to die. If a piece of fatty material breaks off, a blood clot forms to repair the damage caused to the artery wall. This blood clot blocks the coronary artery leading to the heart muscles being starved of oxygen and blood and thus causing a heart attack.
Sleep apnea is a risk factor for the development of high blood pressure, and high blood pressure tends to lead to cardiovascular disease, such as heart attacks
Doctor Lawrence Epstein, associated medical director for the Sleep Clinic
Snoring isn’t just an annoying thing a partner or family member have to deal with, it could also be a sign that there is a high risk of having a heart attack.
When a person sleeps and often has repeated pauses in their breathing throughout the night, these breathing interruptions could threaten your heart’s health.
Snoring is one very obvious sign that you have sleep apnea and this ongoing unhealthy way of sleeping puts you at major risk. Snoring is caused by the tongue not having enough room in the back of the throat, particularly in those people who are obese.
There are chemicals in the brain whose job it is to trigger breathing and these triggers fail when people snore. As a result, oxygen levels drop dramatically, causing cortisone, adrenaline and other hormones to surge.
These hormones contribute to high blood pressure and heart irregularities and this could trigger heart attacks.
Doctor Lawrence Epstein, associated medical director for the Sleep Clinic said: “Sleep apnea is a risk factor for the development of high blood pressure, and high blood pressure tends to lead to cardiovascular disease, such as heart attacks.
“Although the research on sleep apnea treatments and heart disease is relatively new, it’s reasonable to think that if you eliminate the sleep apnea, you will eliminate the cardiovascular risk.”
People with sleep apnea stop breathing for 10 to 20 seconds while they sleep and this could happen from a few to hundreds of times a night.
Symptoms of a heart attack vary between men and woman and it is vital to have early medical treatment to ensure the damage is not permanent.
Other symptoms you are at risk of having a heart attack:
- Pain that spreads to the arm
- Feeling dizzy
- Throat and jaw pain
- Easily exhausted
- Stomach pain
The British Heart Foundation discussed what you should do if you suspect you are having a heart attack and said: “The first thing to do if you think you’re having a heart attack is to phone 999 immediately for an ambulance.
“Don’t worry if you’re not completely sure whether your symptoms are a heart attack, it’s important that you seek medical attention regardless.
“If you are having a heart attack you must sit down and remain calm. Take a 300mg aspirin if you have one within reach and wait for the paramedics.”
Many people make a full recovery after a heart attack and are able to return to their day to day lives.
A heart attack can be a frightening experience and if you are struggling with the after effects you should speak to your GP who will refer you to a cardiac rehabilitation service for advice and support.
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