PDSM logo

Sleep Disorders: How They Lead to Heart Attacks

Feb 19, 2021
misc image
In honor of February being designated as American Heart Month, we are focusing our weekly blogs to provide our readers with information on heart health and ways to prevent or reduce heart disease.

In recognition of February being designated as American Heart Month, we are focusing our weekly blogs to provide our readers with information on heart health and ways to prevent or reduce heart disease.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Heart Disease is a leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. Most middle-aged and young adults have one or more risk factors for heart disease, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or being a smoker or overweight. Having multiple risk factors increases your risk for heart disease.

Sometimes heart disease may be “silent” and not diagnosed until a person experiences signs or symptoms of a heart attack, heart failure, or an arrhythmia. When these events happen, symptoms may include:

  • Heart Attack: Chest pain or discomfort, upper back or neck pain, indigestion, heartburn, nausea or vomiting, extreme fatigue, upper body discomfort, dizziness, and shortness of breath.
  • Arrhythmia: Fluttering feelings in the chest (palpitations).
  • Heart Failure: Shortness of breath, fatigue, or swelling of the feet, ankles, legs, abdomen, or neck veins.

About 655,000 Americans die from heart disease each year—that’s 1 in every 4 deaths.


So, why are we highlighting heart conditions on a website that is all about obstructive sleep apnea, chronic snoring, and oral appliance therapy as a reliable and successful treatment option?

THE ANSWER IS: Taking steps to treat your sleep apnea can have a direct effect on reducing your heart disease.

Sleep Apnea Health Risks

Sleep apnea can lead to sleep deprivation from constant nightly interruptions and shallower overall sleep. Lack of sleep is associated with far-reaching health consequences that affect a person physically, mentally, and emotionally, and as a result, it comes as no surprise that sleep apnea has been tied to diverse health problems.

Because of how it affects oxygen balance in the body, untreated sleep apnea raises dangers for various types of cardiovascular issues, such as high blood pressure, heart attack, heart disease, and stroke. 

Your lifestyle is not only your best defense against heart disease and stroke, it's also your responsibility. A heart-healthy lifestyle includes the ideas listed below. By following these simple steps you can reduce all of the modifiable risk factors for heart disease. 

How to start reducing the risk TODAY

The good news is that, in many cases, there are steps that you can take to reduce your risk of sleep apnea AND heart disease simultaneously.

If you have symptoms of sleep apnea, the first thing you should do is talk with a doctor. Without understanding the root causes of your sleep apnea, it is difficult to treat. When necessary, the doctor can recommend an overnight sleep study to analyze your sleep, including your breathing.

If a person is diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), the logical treatment is to try to improve sleep habits. A primary care doctor who is familiar with a patient’s medical history can often be in the best position to make specific recommendations for solutions.

Some of the common recommendations that you will probably hear are general lifestyle changes, adjusting your sleeping environment and changing sleep habits, as well as losing weight or changing your diet to eliminate fatty foods, caffeine, or alcohol, and changing sleep habits are important. Other recommendations include quitting smoking, reducing stress, getting more exercise and 

Another common treatment is the use of a continuous positive airway pressure or bi-level positive airway pressure (BiPAP) machine. Despite the highly effective treatment CPAP offers, people find it difficult to adhere to it. Compliance has been variably classified in the literature and thus adherence rates range from 40–85%.

A Simpler Way to Treat Sleep Apnea and Reduce Risk of Heart Disease

An oral appliance is a device that works in your mouth during sleep. It looks a lot like an orthodontic retainer or a sports mouthguard, although the technology behind oral appliances is more advanced. 

Oral appliances are available from many dental offices, but most prefer to select one type of oral appliance and offer it to all patients. The team at Pennsylvania Dental Sleep Medicine recognizes that not everyone has the same set of needs (or the same anatomy) and that offering a range of options is a better way to help you find the right fit for your needs. 

Most oral appliances fall into one of two categories: mandibular repositioning devices or tongue-retaining devices. A tongue-retaining device works by engaging the tongue and moving it to a more forward position in your mouth during sleep. Mandibular repositioning devices change the position of your jaw during sleep, which helps open your airway.

How do I know if an oral appliance is right for me?

There are many different types of oral appliances to choose from. Having that range of choices is a great way to find a device that suits your needs, but the sheer volume of available options can be intimidating. 

Some of the oral appliances preferred by the team at Pennsylvania Dental Sleep Medicine include:

  • HerbstⓇ Advance
  • Elastomeric Mandibular Advancement
  • TAPⓇ 3
  • Panthera Sleep D-SAD
  • ProSomnusⓇ MicrO2
  • WholeYou™ Respire Pink
  • Medley Appliances
  • 3D-Avant

Your sleep dentist at Pennsylvania Dental Sleep Medicine performs a thorough diagnostic exam prior to suggesting oral appliance options. Your practitioner also works with your extended medical team to understand the full scope of your needs. This approach helps you find a CPAP alternative that works for you without an extensive period of trial and error. 

Sleep plays an essential role in every aspect of your life. The faster you’re able to find a solution that helps you get the rest you need, the sooner you notice the improvements in your health and wellness that come with quality sleep. 

When you’re ready, book a one-on-one consultation at Pennsylvania Dental Sleep Medicine. Online scheduling is available, or you’re always welcome to call or stop by the office to check appointment availability.

Other helpful links for improving your Heart Health:

Quit Smoking for plans, tips, and tools to help you quit

Eating Healthy


High Blood Pressure

Physical Activity and Fitness

Learn 5 goals to losing weight

Visit Weight Management

Visit Diabetes

Get stress management tips and tools

Read recommendations on alcohol, wine, and cardiovascular disease

Pittsburgh Dental Sleep Medicine