young adult male sleeping with cpap machine maskWe know that most people (perhaps 80-90%) with sleep apnea in Columbus, OH are undiagnosed. This can lead to numerous health problems. Science proves there is a strong link between sleep apnea and cardiovascular disease. Not only does sleep apnea increase a person’s risk of developing cardiovascular disease, but it can also impact treatment and recovery. With these facts clear, it makes sense that cardiologists in Columbus should routinely assess the sleep quality of their patients.

However, a doctor reported recently that doctors are failing to take this crucial step, leaving many patients with heart disease to suffer from undiagnosed sleep apnea.

Two Simple Questions

To pulmonologist Dr. Luiz Lazzarini, the failure to screen patients for sleep apnea is even more baffling because he says it takes only two questions to screen for people who would benefit from sleep apnea testing. He recommends that all heart doctors ask their patients: “Do you snore?” and “Do you feel very sleepy during the day?” Snoring and daytime sleepiness are easy-to-identify associations with sleep apnea. When patients answer yes to at least one of those questions, Dr. Lazzarini says doctors should recommend a sleep study.

Conditions That Should Prompt Sleep Testing

However, heart doctors acknowledge that some heart conditions are so strongly associated with sleep apnea that their mere presence should be considered a cause for sleep testing. Two of these are drug-resistant hypertension and atrial fibrillation.

Drug-resistant hypertension (high blood pressure) is strongly associated with sleep apnea. Multiple studies confirm that more than 80% of people with this condition have sleep apnea. This means that nearly five out of six people with drug-resistant hypertension also have obstructive sleep apnea. People with drug-resistant hypertension might not be able to get relief from their condition unless they are also getting their sleep apnea treated.

Atrial fibrillation is a type of heart arrhythmia. In this arrhythmia, chaotic electrical signals in the heart keep it from pumping as regularly as it should—instead, the atria quiver. Not only does this keep blood from circulating efficiently, but it also causes blood to pool in the heart, where it can form clots that can travel to the brain, causing a stroke. Atrial fibrillation is not as strongly associated with sleep apnea. However, around half of patients with atrial fibrillation also have sleep apnea. Sleep apnea reduces the effectiveness of certain medications used to treat atrial fibrillation. In addition, people with untreated sleep apnea are more likely to see a recurrence of the condition. Therefore, people with this condition should also be screened for sleep apnea.

If you have either of these conditions and your doctor hasn’t recommended a sleep test in Columbus, you should consider requesting one on your own initiative.

How Sleep Apnea Might Trigger These Conditions

Although our understanding of the link between sleep apnea and these conditions, there is strong evidence of a causal link between sleep apnea and drug-resistant hypertension. In fact, many doctors believe that, after genetic traits, sleep apnea is the leading cause of hypertension. When the body is deprived of oxygen and/or has a high level of carbon dioxide, the heart begins to beat harder and faster, leading to high blood pressure. While the high blood pressure episodes may initially be short-lived, the repeated apneas can cause the body’s blood pressure to remain elevated.

For atrial fibrillation, sleep apnea directly contributes to heart arrhythmias during sleep. Low oxygen and high carbon-dioxide levels cause mechanical stresses and chemical changes in the heart. These changes affect the heart’s electrical regulatory system, which might predispose people to atrial fibrillation.

Get Sleep Apnea Treatment That Works for You

If you do test positive for sleep apnea, what next? In that situation, it’s important to get a sleep apnea treatment that will work for you.

Most doctors automatically prescribe CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) for people with sleep apnea. CPAP is a highly effective treatment. Considered the gold standard for sleep apnea treatment, CPAP is nearly 100% effective when used properly. It has only one major drawback: about half of people prescribed CPAP can’t adapt to it. CPAP can be very uncomfortable and causes numerous side effects that make it hard for people to adapt to it.

For people who can’t adapt to CPAP or don’t want to try it, Firouzian Dentistry in Columbus, OH, offers a CPAP alternative. Oral appliance therapy is comfortable and convenient when compared to CPAP. Almost all oral appliance users meet the definition of compliance used for CPAP, and the vast majority use their oral appliance all night every night.

This makes oral appliance therapy a perfect CPAP alternative.

Sleep Apnea Treatment in Columbus, OH

If you have or suspect sleep apnea in Columbus, OH, let sleep dentist Dr. Mike Firouzian help you with every treatment step. He can help you get a sleep test to determine whether sleep apnea is really the cause of your symptoms. Most people can find out using a convenient home sleep test. If you have sleep apnea, Dr. Firouzian can evaluate you to determine whether you’re a good candidate for oral appliance therapy.

Please call (614) 683-4640 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Firouzian in Ohio, located in the Crossroads Neighborhood of Columbus.