Harvard Health Letter

Ask the doctor: Does snoring spike blood pressure?

Q. Is it true that snoring raises your blood pressure? I'm a snorer, and I worry that it puts me at risk for other conditions.

A. Severe snoring can be a sign of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). If you have OSA, then your breathing is blocked temporarily many times per night. That causes oxygen levels in your lungs and blood to start falling. Your brain sees this happening and sends adrenaline into your bloodstream. This stimulates the breathing center in your brain. It also makes your heart beat faster and raises your blood pressure. Fortunately, treatment for OSA can lower blood pressure.

Whenever a patient of mine has high blood pressure despite medications, I ask their spouses to observe their sleep to see if they sometimes stop breathing or snort or gasp like they are struggling for air. It's not unusual to find that the problem with blood pressure control is caused by OSA.

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