How Sleep Apnea Affects the Heart

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by JLH, Jun 20, 2006.

  1. JLH

    JLH New Member

    Sleep Apnea and Heart Failure

    If you have heart disease, do you know if you also have sleep apnea? It's a chicken and egg problem -- both conditions seem to increase your risk for the other. Now, doctors are learning that treating them together could benefit both.

    Barbara Mayhew has a heart condition. "I was complaining of being tired, and my family physician discovered that I had an abnormally fast heartbeat," she says. And now, she's also being treated for sleep apnea. "As the medication helped the heart to function better, I thought my fatigue level would decrease, and it didn't. I literally was dragging myself home and collapsing on the couch."

    About half of heart failure patients have sleep apnea, but only 5 percent are tested for it. Sleep apnea causes the upper airway to collapse, which leads to breathing interruptions while sleeping. Those can weaken the heart.

    "Their oxygen level drops. They develop this adrenaline surge. Their heart starts racing fast. Their blood pressure increases," sleep specialist Rami Khayat, M.D., of the Ohio State University Medical Center in Columbus.

    So, doctors at OSUMC started a program that treats heart problems and sleep apnea together.

    "These patients have improvements in their heart function," Dr. Khayat says. In fact, patients have reported 10-percent to 30-percent improvements since the program started.

    "At the present time, the medical community is poorly addressing this connection between sleep apnea and congestive heart failure," OSUMC cardiologist William Abraham, M.D.

    There, heart patients have access to sleep specialists and take part in sleep studies. Barbara has started wearing a CPAP device at night. The mask is the most common way to treat sleep apnea. It keeps the airway open while you sleep.

    "I just pretend I'm a jet fighter pilot," Mayhew says, and now, she's raring to go.

    The doctors at Ohio State advise patients to talk to their doctor about sleep apnea if they have heart failure. Meanwhile, a number of clinical trials are underway to study the connection between the two conditions.

    If you would like more information, please contact:

    Rami Khayat, M.D.
    Ohio State University
    The Ohio State University College of Medicine
    370 West 9th Ave.
    Columbus, OH 43210


    P.S. I have congestive heart failure and obstructive sleep apnea. Since I have been wearing my CPAP, I have not gone into CHF anymore!!!


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