woman in large sweater yawning while getting out of bed on a sunny morningMost of the health risks tied to hypertension, more casually known as high blood pressure, are serious. They include decreased libido or erectile dysfunction, lost vision due to glaucoma, decreased bone density, or depression or anxiety as a result of medications. Some of the medical problems that hypertension exposes you to do far worse than just impacting your quality of life: They can even kill you.

Unfortunately, one of the causes of hypertension is sleep apnea, which the majority of sufferers don’t even know they have. Fortunately, a Wichita Falls sleep dentist can help you get tested for the condition and find a treatment that works for you.

Sleep Apnea and Hypertension

Researchers estimate that a staggering 80% of people with sleep apnea in Wichita Falls are undiagnosed. This is at least partially because it is the nature of a sleep disorder to go unnoticed. After all, you’re sleeping through your symptoms.

People with sleep apnea may stop breathing for periods of ten or more seconds while they sleep, sometimes as often as hundreds of times a night. But too often, people ignore or write off even the noticeable symptoms of sleep apnea. Having a tendency to snore may make you the butt of jokes, but fails to trigger the urge to see a doctor in most people. And daytime symptoms like fatigue, irritability, and poor focus can easily be attributed to a dozen other, less serious causes.

Sleep apnea is a serious health risk, and one of its dangerous complications is high blood pressure. Each time your breathing stops, your brain commands your heart to beat faster to try to improve the oxygen supply. This elevates your blood pressure and strains your heart.

Studies have shown that people with sleep apnea have an elevated risk of high blood pressure. And if your blood pressure isn’t responding to medication, it’s often because sleep apnea continues driving your hypertension. In these cases, it’s only treating sleep apnea that will allow you to resolve your hypertension.

Shared Dangers of Sleep Apnea and Hypertension

One of the most valuable aspects of our sleep apnea infographic is that it clearly shows the places where both conditions have shared dangers. If you understand the dangers, hopefully you will talk to your doctor or a Wichita Falls sleep dentist about getting tested for sleep apnea.

Cardiac Dangers

High blood pressure increases your risk of many common heart problems, including heart failure and heart pain, angina. Sleep apnea also contributes these heart problems. Some of this risk is mediated through high blood pressure, but some of the risk is due to inflammation and other complications of sleep apnea.

Elevated Stroke risk

Both high blood pressure and sleep apnea can increase your stroke risk. High blood pressure increases the risk that blood vessels will break, causing a hemorrhagic stroke. It can also increase the risk that arterial plaque will break off then clog blood vessels in the brain, causing an ischemic stroke.

Sleep apnea and even snoring contributes to damaged arteries, which leads to scarring and thickening of the arteries. This helps generate plaque that can then break off to cause an ischemic stroke.

Kidney Damage

Perhaps 50% of people with end-stage renal disease (severe kidney damage) have sleep apnea. Sleep apnea can damage the tissues of the kidney through oxidative stress. This combines with the impact of high blood pressure’s damage to the kidneys to lead to diminished kidney function.

Vision Loss

People with high blood pressure are at an increased risk of glaucoma, sometimes called the silent thief of sight. Glaucoma causes the loss of vision by damaging the optic nerve. In addition, sleep apnea can contribute to the risk of eye conditions like nonarteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy (NAION), similar to a stroke in the eye, which can lead to sudden morning blindness.

Depression and Anxiety

Sleep apnea and hypertension are both associated with mood problems, such as depression and anxiety. The conditions can make it hard to get good results from traditional treatment approaches for these mood disorders.

Sexual Dysfunction

Sleep apnea leads to a loss of sexual desire and sexual pleasure for men and women. They also contribute to cardiovascular problems that damage sexual function. High blood pressure also contributes to loss of sexual function, such as erectile dysfunction (ED).

Bone Loss

High blood pressure increases the loss of calcium from the body, which leads to bone loss. In addition, the periodic oxygen deprivation linked to sleep apnea reduces the number of bone-building cells (osteoblasts) and increases the number of bone-breaking cells (osteoclasts), leading to weaker bones.

Share the Graphic with Someone You Love

A benefit of our sleep apnea graphic is that it’s easy to share with people to help them understand the serious risks they could be facing. Do you know someone with elevated risk for sleep apnea, such as snoring, obesity, thick neck, or drug resistant hypertension? You can share this graphic with them so that they can see for themselves the dangers of not getting sleep apnea treatment. We hope it encourages many people in Wichita Falls to seek treatment for sleep apnea.

Treatment In Wichita Falls Can Reduce the Risks

The good news is, sleep apnea is completely treatable. Treatments for sleep apnea can also reduce your blood pressure and, likewise, your risks for health problems like these. By preventing the sleep apnea episodes that increase blood pressure, that laundry list of health risks won’t have to apply to you.

If you think you may have sleep apnea, it’s important to speak to your doctor. A sleep test can allow doctors to diagnose the disorder, and then your dentist can help treat it. Although your doctor may recommend CPAP for sleep apnea, oral appliances are just as effective and are more comfortable and convenient. For many people, an oral appliance can be the first line of treatment. A neuromuscular trained dentist can fit you with an oral appliance that holds your jaw in the right position to keep your airway open, allowing for easy breathing all night long.

If you are tired of snoring or sleep apnea and want to get a good night’s rest, please call 940-322-2252 or contact us today for an appointment with a Wichita Falls sleep dentist at StarImage Dentistry, located near Wichita Falls High School.