Harvard Heart Letter

Sleep apnea wakes up heart disease

Pauses in breathing at night can lead to heart trouble and shorten life.

The snorts, whistles, gasps, and groans you make while sleeping may do more than rob you and your bed partner of a good night's sleep. They may steal years of your life, too. That's the message from two large studies that looked at the influence of sleep apnea, a special cause of snoring, on life span. Together with a new advisory on sleep apnea and cardiovascular disease, they sound the alarm that we should pay more attention to this breath-holding type of snoring.

Key points

  • Sleep apnea can promote heart disease and shorten life.

  • Improving breathing at night with a breathing machine or other treatment is good for your sleep, your bed partner's sleep, and your heart.

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