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Sleep Apnea

  Would you please explain how sleep apnea affects the heart?  Was told that it is a contributing factor to heart disease and if this in fact true, I would appreciate any information you could give me.  Thank you for your time and consideration in this matter.
Dear Susie
A great deal of research is currently being done in this area. Sleep apnea can definitely cause or contribute to high blood pressure (hypertension). It can also be associated with arrhythmias (irregular heart beats), especially while sleeping. It can lead to failure of the right side of the heart. The strength of all these associations is sometimes questioned because the vast majority of patients with sleep apnea are quite obese, and obesity is a risk factor for all sorts of heart disease. Furthermore, heart disease and sleep apnea can coexist, and the symptoms (such as shortness of breath or fatigue) can overlap.
I hope this information is useful. Information provided in the heart forum is for general purposes only.  Only your physician can provided specific diagnoses and therapies.  Feel free to write back with further questions. Good luck!
If you would like to make an appointment at the Cleveland Clinic Heart Center, please call 1-800-CCF-CARE or inquire online by using the Heart Center website at www.ccf.org/heartcenter.   The Heart Center website contains a directory of the cardiology staff that can be used to select the physician best suited to address your cardiac problem.

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