Loud snoring is a risk factor for sleep apnoea
Loud snoring is often seen as something to laugh about, but it is considered a risk factor for sleep apnoea, a serious medical condition that can produce high blood pressure or heart problems as well as fatigue. Now new research indicates that while obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) can increase an older person’s risk of death from heart disease, treatment with a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine can reduce the risk.
The link between sleep apnoea and heart disease in younger people is well known, but until now researchers had been unable to show a significant link in people over 65. This new study of nearly 1000 patients, from La Fe University and Polytechnic Hospital in Spain, shows that untreated OSA is significantly associated with a higher risk of stroke and heart failure, and a corresponding raised risk of mortality. Interestingly, CPAP treatment helped bring the risk levels back down to the levels of those who did not have the problem. These benefits were still apparent nearly six years later.
In another study from Spain, researchers from the Hospital del Mar in Barcelona have found that overactive bladder can be linked to sleep apnoea. They analysed data compiled via questionnaire from 72 female patients, all of whom had been referred to a sleep disorders clinic because they showed signs or symptoms of sleep apnoea. The women were asked about how often they needed to empty their bladder, whether the need was urgent and whether they had to get up in the night to use the loo.
Of the 62 women who were diagnosed with sleep apnoea (from the original 72), all showed significantly higher scores for bladder problems. The researchers point out that it is merely a link, no cause or effect has been shown. “We do not know whether one of the conditions causes the other,” says lead study author Nuria Grau. Their next step will be to monitor the effect of using CPAP machines to see whether the women’s bladder issues are also resolved.