Heavy snoring risk factor for carotid atherosclerosis: Study

September 1st, 2008 - 4:51 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, Sep 1 (IANS)Heavy snoring is an independent risk factor for early carotid atherosclerosis, which may progress to be associated with stroke.Carotid artery disease occurs when plaque builds up within the main arteries of the neck (carotid atherosclerosis), causing the artery opening to become narrow (carotid stenosis). They carry the main blood supply to the brain.

In a study of 110 adults, the prevalence of carotid atherosclerosis was 20 percent with mild snoring, 32 percent with moderate snoring and 64 percent with heavy snoring.

After adjustment for age, gender, smoking history and hypertension, heavy snoring was significantly associated with carotid atherosclerosis.

“Heavy snorers may be at risk for the development of carotid atherosclerosis, which is the leading cause of stroke,” said co-author and study coordinator Sharon Lee, associate professor and director of the Ludwig Engel Centre for Respiratory Research at Westmead Hospital in Australia.

The study is the first to objectively measure and quantify snoring, rather than using a questionnaire, to explore the association between sleep-disordered breathing and carotid atherosclerosis.

According to Lee, 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.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine reports that habitual snoring occurs in about 24 percent of adult women and 40 percent of adult men. Loud and frequent snoring also is a warning sign for obstructive sleep apnea.

The 110 participants with aged between 45 and 80 years were examined in a sleep laboratory. Volunteers were categorised as snorers and non-snorers with only mild, nonhypoxic obstructive sleep apnea.

According to Lee, treatments such as weight loss, decreased alcohol intake, oral appliance therapy and continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy have all been shown to successfully reduce snoring. There are no studies on whether reducing snoring will reverse damage to the carotid arteries.

The study appeared in the Monday issue of the journal Sleep.

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