Arrhythmia is one of the many serious health issues, which result from Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). It ranks right up there along other heart conditions like non-sustained ventricular tachycardia, heart block, and atrial fibrillation. Heart arrhythmia or cardiac dysrhythmia is a scary condition because of the fact that along with stroke, it causes the most number of sudden deaths during sleep.
What is Arrhythmia?
This heart condition involves a problem with the rhythm or rate of the affected person’s heartbeat. In patients who already have OSA, this rhythm tends to deteriorate when nighttime respiration is obstructed by episodes of apnea.
An OSA episode can last for up to several minutes, during which the person stops breathing. People who experience more than one episode in a single night are prone to have problem with their blood oxygen level.
- When the oxygen level in the blood drop, heart rhythm problems can ensue, as can a rise in pressure to the right side of the person’s heart.
- If the oxygen saturation goes down drastically in the night (such a condition is called hypoxemia), it raises the risk of abnormal heart rhythm.
- CPAP, besides helping to stop snoring at night, has been found effective in treating patients with abnormal heart rhythm.
Your Heart and Sleep State
Sleep states heavily influence your heart, as well as how oxygenated your body stays. This has to do with changing brain activity while you cycle between NREM and REM sleep. Sleep apnea patients exhibit problem during REM sleep, characterized by the big disturbances in nerve activity. This can affect any pause in the rhythm of the heart.
Healthy people do not usually have a problem here, but a person with heart disease or OSA is in danger of being beset by cardiac dysrhythmia during REM sleep.
Improving your Heart
People with OSA can take some general measures to bring down the severity of arrhythmia and OSA, although recovery will not begin at once. These can also set them in a healthy lifestyle, which is a good thing from any perspective.
- Undergo CPAP therapy, or any alternative therapy, as a way to avoid OSA episodes.
- Reduce weight. This is a no-brainer on any given day, unless you are already on the underweight side.
- Cut down on sedatives and alcohol intake, because either can lead to pharyngeal collapse, and that can lead to airway blockage when you are asleep.