How Does Sleep Apnea Affect Your Heart?

Written by
Jason Smith RPSGT
Published on
February 7, 2022 9:21:09 PM PST February 7, 2022 9:21:09 PM PSTth, February 7, 2022 9:21:09 PM PST

Sleep apnea is a moderately common disease that can affect both men and women. Although often written off as "just snoring," sleep apnea is a serious condition that can have devastating consequences.

One of the biggest risks of sleep apnea is the damage it can cause to your cardiovascular system. Below, you'll find a list of the ways sleep apnea can affect your heart health, and what you can do to stop it.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a condition that causes the affected to repeatedly stop breathing during sleep. The disorder causes a narrowed or blocked airway to prevent air from reaching the lungs properly, leading a person to snore excessively or even gasp for air during sleep.

Gaps in the breath can occur only a few times per night, or even more than once every two minutes in severe cases. The most common form of the disorder is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), which currently affects 34% of men and 17% of women.

How Does Sleep Apnea Affect the Heart?

There are several ways sleep apnea can affect your heart, the most common being:


Heart arrhythmias

Heart disease

Each of these complications can be deadly, meaning that it is crucial to treat sleep apnea as soon as it is diagnosed.


Sleep apnea causes a person to experience sudden drops in blood oxygen levels during the night. These drops put a strain on the cardiovascular system and can lead to an increase in blood pressure. Over time, obstructive sleep apnea will result in frequent high blood pressure and the development of constant hypertension.

Heart Arrhythmias

If left untreated, sleep apnea also increases the chance that a person will develop a heart arrhythmia. When this occurs, the heart is unable to maintain a steady rate, causing it to beat abnormally. This can increase the risk of sudden death due to an irregular heartbeat.

Heart arrhythmias are two to four times more likely to develop in those who have been diagnosed with sleep apnea.

Heart Disease

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the world. While there are several factors that can increase the risk of heart disease, a person with sleep apnea is 30% more likely to become afflicted. Those with heart disease are at a much higher risk of death due to a stroke, heart attack, or sudden death.

Think You Might Have Sleep Apnea?

If you think you may be at risk of sleep apnea, be sure to see your doctor right away to find out if you suffer from this condition.

If you've already been diagnosed with sleep apnea, shop today for the best, most effective CPAP machines and supplies.