Heavy snorers face double risk, including stroke

September 8th, 2008 - 12:46 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, Sep 8 (IANS) Heavy snorers face a double risk, cholesterol plaque formation in neck arteries and later stroke, according to a new study. The five-year study by University of Sydney researchers showed that heavy snoring is an independent risk factor for early carotid atherosclerosis, a leading cause of stroke.

Over 100 individuals aged between 45 to 80 years volunteered for the project. Based on results, participants were deemed mild, moderate or heavy snorers.

Researchers at the Ludwig Engel Centre for Respiratory Research (LECRR), Westmead Millennium Institute found after adjusting for age, gender, smoking history and hypertension, heavy snoring was significantly associated with carotid atherosclerosis compared with mild snoring.

According to the study, 60 percent of heavy snorers had evidence of cholesterol plaque leading to atherosclerosis, compared to 20 percent of light snorers.

“Our study is the first to objectively measure and quantify snoring, rather than using a questionnaire, to explore the association between snoring and carotid atherosclerosis,” said co-author and study coordinator Sharon Lee.

John Wheatley, director of the LECRR and co-author, said: “The high prevalence of snoring in the community means that these findings have substantial public health implications for the management of carotid atherosclerosis and the prevention of stroke.”

Previous studies have reported the occurrence of habitual snoring is 24 percent in adult women and 40 percent in adult males. Loud and frequent snoring is also a warning sign for obstructive sleep apnea.

According to Wheatley, treatments such as weight loss, decreased alcohol intake, oral appliance therapy and continuous positive airway pressure therapy have all been shown to successfully reduce snoring.

“The next step would be to conduct studies on whether reducing snoring will reverse damage to the carotid arteries,” concluded Wheatley. This study was funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council and the Department of Veterans Affairs, Australia.

The results were published in the current issue of the international journal Sleep.

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