Snoring Linked To Cardiovascular Health Risks
January 25, 2013

Snoring May Signal Future Cardiovascular Health Risks

Connie K. Ho for — Your Universe Online

Researchers from Henry Ford Hospital recently found that snoring could signal health risks in the future.

In particular, the scientists discovered that snorers have a greater risk of developing thickening or abnormalities in the carotid artery as compared to individuals who are overweight, smoke, or exhibit high cholesterol.

"Snoring is more than a bedtime annoyance and it shouldn't be ignored. Patients need to seek treatment in the same way they would if they had sleep apnea, high blood pressure or other risk factors for cardiovascular disease," remarked the study´s lead author Dr. Robert Deeb, a researcher in the Department of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery at Henry Ford Hospital, in a prepared statement. "Our study adds to the growing body of evidence suggesting that isolated snoring may not be as benign as first suspected. So instead of kicking your snoring bed partner out of the room or spending sleepless nights elbowing him or her, seek out medical treatment for the snorer."

The carotid artery helps in providing blood to the brain, neck, and head via blood vessels. The team of investigators believes that snorers have changes in the carotid artery that could be due to trauma and resulting inflammation from the vibrations of snoring. The findings of the study were presented at the recent 2013 Combined Sections Meeting of the Triological Society and will also be published in the medical journal The Laryngoscope.

In addition, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) was found to be related to snoring, as OSA is a sleep disorder that results in the collapse of the airway in the throat during periods of sleep; the momentary pauses in breathing along with the loud snoring are found to be related to cardiovascular disease and other significant health problems.

The project consisted of a review of data of 913 patients at the Henry Ford Hospital´s institute of sleep. The patients were between the ages of 18 and 50, and completed a diagnostic sleep study between December 2006 and January 2012. 54 patients finished a snore outcomes survey that detailed their snoring habits, and a carotid artery duplex ultrasound helped determine the intima-media thickness of the carotid arteries. The carotid intima-media thickness was conducted by measuring the thickness of the innermost two layers of the wall. The researchers wanted to better understand the presence and development of atherosclerotic disease, as intima-media thickness is considered a red flag for carotid artery disease.

Based on the results of the study, the team of investigators noted that snorers had much greater intima-media thickness of the carotid arteries than those who were non-snorers.

"Snoring is generally regarded as a cosmetic issue by health insurance, requiring significant out-of-pocket expenses by patients. We're hoping to change that thinking so patients can get the early treatment they need, before more serious health issues arise," continued Deeb in the statement.

The scientists plan on continuing the study, specifically identifying where there is an uptick in the number of cardiovascular events related to snoring.

Apart from this current study, other studies have looked at the drawbacks of snoring. A study published in the online edition of the journal Pediatrics in August 2012 discovered that there was a connection between persistent snoring with cognitive and behavioral problems in children. In particular, the scientists discovered that snoring which goes on for months or years is abnormal and signals a possible issue. Problems related to the child´s behavior include inattention, depression, or hyperactivity.