Snoring May Be Early Signs of Future Health Risks

Snoring may put you at high risk to cardiovascular diseases, greater even than those who are overweight, who smoke or have high cholesterol. This is from a study by researchers at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.

snoring“Snoring is more than a bedtime annoyance and it shouldn’t be ignored. Patients need to seek treatment in the same way they would if they had sleep apnea, high blood pressure or other risk factors for cardiovascular disease,” says lead study author Robert Deeb, M.D., with the Department of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery at Henry Ford.

This study adds to the growing body of evidence suggesting that isolated snoring may not be as benign as first suspected. Instead of continually elbowing the snorer or turning them on their side, instead of treating snoring as something to be embarrassed about, we need to be urging snorers to  seek out medical treatment as soon as possible.

The study reveals that in snorers, even those who don’t have sleep apnea — the carotid artery develop thickening, likely due to the trauma and subsequent inflammation caused by the vibrations of snoring.

The study results were presented in January at the 2013 Combined Sections Meeting of the Triological Society in Scottsdale, Arizona and has been submitted to The Laryngoscope journal for publication.

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) — a sleep disorder that occurs due to the collapse of the airway in the throat during sleep and causes loud snoring and periodic pauses in breathing — has long been linked to cardiovascular disease, along with a host of other serious health issues.

But the risk for cardiovascular disease may actually begin with snoring, long before it becomes OSA. Until now, there was little evidence in humans to show a similar connection between snoring and cardiovascular risk.

For the Henry Ford study, Dr. Deeb and senior study author Kathleen Yaremchuk, M.D., reviewed data for 913 patients who had been evaluated by the institution’s sleep center.

Patients, ages 18-50, who had participated in a diagnostic sleep study between December 2006 and January 2012 were included in the study. None of the participants had sleep apnea.

The study found that compared to non-snorers, snorers were found to have a significantly greater¬† thickness of the carotid arteries. This higher thickness was particular to snorers, the significance in thickness not present even in patients who had the traditional risk factors for cardiovascular disease — smoking, diabetes, hypertension or hypercholesterolemia.

The Henry Ford research team plans to conduct another long-term study on this topic, particularly to determine if there’s an increased incidence of cardiovascular events in patients who snore.

Along with Drs. Deeb and Yaremchuk, Henry Ford study co-authors are Paul Judge, M.D.; Ed Peterson, Ph.D.; and Judith C. Lin, M.D.