How does sleep apnea contribute to heart disease?

I know that sleep apnea contributes to heart disease, but I don't understand how. I don't see how sleep apnea can really affect the heart. How does sleep apnea contribute to heart disease? What additional measures can someone with sleep apnea take to protect his or her heart?

Doctors Answers (1)

Robert C. Jones, M.D.
Answered on: 3/31/2014

Stress and strain on the heart can occur with each apneic event when the blood pressure rises rapidly and the oxygen saturation drops quickly. Untreated or poorly treated sleep apnea can lead to heart failure, heart attack or stroke. Weight loss may cure mild to moderate sleep apnea. CPAP is the gold standard for treatment of severe sleep apnea. Sometimes, an oral device or surgery can treat sleep apnea. Get seen by a board-certified sleep professional to explore treatment options.