In a study by researchers at Yale University, obstructive sleep apnea was associated with a 30% greater risk of heart attack and/or death over a 4-5 year period. The study followed 1,123 patients who were evaluated for sleep apnea during an overnight sleep study for 4-5 years, and recorded every incidence of heart disease (heart attack, coronary angiography, etc.) or death. According to researchers, sleep apnea triggers the body’s threat response, which distributes blood to the body in preparation for a “fight or flight” response and decreases the blood pumped to the heart. Repeated sleep apnea incidents every night for years can starve the heart of oxygen, leading to the increased risk of heart failure and death. Although sleep apnea and heart disease have common risk factors, such as obesity, this study was large enough to take that into account and adjust the findings to reflect the real medical risks of sleep apnea independent of other known heart disease causes. If you have any of the symptoms of sleep apnea, it is important to go for a diagnosis right away. Please contact Desert Smiles today to schedule a consultation. Dr. Donald Wilcox serves patients in the Phoenix, Arizona area.