Category Archives: Stroke

Sleep Apnea Affects Memory and Heart Health

Are you sleepy during the daytime? Is snoring a problem? Both are symptoms of a serious health problem. Apnea means without breath. Sleep apnea occurs when air movement in and out of the lungs is reduced during sleep, making blood oxygen plummet. Brain sensors identify the low oxygenSunset level and high carbon dioxide shift. This, in turn, triggers partial awakening to correct the problem. Deeper breathing is stimulated, often accompanied by loud snoring as increased effort overcomes the obstruction.

Once the airway is opened again, oxygen rises and carbon dioxide drops. The extra breathing stimulus isn’t needed…and sleep resumes. This cycle repeats many times each night. During most episodes, full awakening doesn’t occur. Other times, the person suddenly awakens gasping and choking. Individuals with sleep apnea may not experience overt symptoms, may be unaware of snoring episodes, and don’t realize their memory lapses and frequent naps are related to a problem that also increases their risk for serious heart problems.

Obesity contributes to this problem, but many thin people are affected, too. Alcohol, narcotics and sedatives relax throat muscles resulting in breathing problems. A narrow airway or large tonsils, even in children, can cause sleep apnea.

There are two primary types of sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the airway is blocked by oral tissue when throat muscles relax during sleep. Central sleep apnea is related to reduction of the respiration mechanism in the brain. Both types negatively affect health.

To diagnose the problem, a sleep study to continuously monitor oxygen, heart rate rhythm, and wakening is needed. The primary treatment for sleep apnea is “continuous positive airway pressure,” known as CPAP. This means wearing a carefully fitted mask attached to a small machine. The pressure and fit are individualized for each person to produce enough air pressure to keep their airway open during the normal relaxation of muscle tone during sleep. The adjustment to wearing such an apparatus may be inconvenient and a bit awkward at first, but can be life-saving.

After a good night’s sleep most people with sleep apnea experience a significant improvement in health and wellbeing. Small travel units are available.

What are the symptoms of sleep apnea?
• Restless sleep and fatigue
• Frequent awakening
• Daytime sleepiness, irritability
• Reduced memory
• Morning headaches and confusion
• Chest discomfort
• Children and teens may be poor students
• Behavioral problems in children

Health and heart risks associated with sleep apnea:
• Car accidents due to daytime sleepiness
• Atrial fibrillation, irregular heart beat
• Heart attacks and strokes
• High blood pressure
• Sudden death
• Dementia

Consult a physician and inquire about a sleep study if you are concerned about this health problem.

www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sleepapnea
Betty & Bev

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NEW BLOOD PRESSURE GUIDELINES

September 11, 2015

High blood pressure increases risk for:
heart attacks, heart failure, strokes, and kidney failure.

Blood pressure.2Until today, physicians did not have an optimal goal for patients with high blood pressure. New information released from the Sprint study was reported by officials from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. A paper with all the data will be published in a few months.

The Sprint study examined nearly 10,000 men and women, ages 50 and older, who were at risk for heart and kidney disease. Twenty-eight percent of the participants were over the age of 75.

Officials from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute announced they ended the study a year before the planned conclusion because of the potentially lifesaving results. This is extremely important information because high blood pressure is so prevalent. One in three people (79 million adults in the US), have high blood pressure and half of those being treated have systolic pressures over 140.

About two years ago, a panel of experts at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute panel recommended a systolic goal of 140 because there was no convincing data to show lower was better, now we have that data.

There have been improvements over the past few years with healthier lifestyles, more exercise and lowering abnormal lipid levels, but cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death. Uncontrolled high blood pressure contributes to heart disease in addition to the other disorders noted above. It is important to monitor your blood pressure and take control of your health. If your blood pressure is consistently above 120 systolic (the upper reading), see your healthcare provider for assistance in lowering your blood pressure to 120 or below.

Betty Kuffel, MD