Is Sleep Apnea and Hypertension Linked

April 26, 2017 |  by  |  About Sleep Apnea

Can sleep apnea and hypertension be related? In most studies they say they are linked in some ways. In a study they show that older or middle-aged adults have the highest link between sleep apnea and hypertension. The studies also show that people, mostly males, who have moderate to severe sleep apnea, have a higher risk of having high blood pressure.

When trying to link hypertension and sleep apnea in the past they could never fully link them or knew which caused the other. The apnea and hypertension can now be linked to the frequent drops in the blood and oxygen levels. If these are infrequent then it will cause the body to cause constriction of the blood vessels which can lead to the higher blood pressure. This can also lead to weight gain which can only increase the risk of hypertension. This is important to note because the high blood pressure leads to other serious health issues which include and not limited to heart attacks, strokes and kidney disease.


When someone increases their body size they are more than likely to suffer from hypertension. Obesity is something that is very frequent in patients with sleep apnea. The reason why people with sleep apnea are more likely to gain weight is because their glucose levels are thrown off. The constant waking up will make the body release more of the hormone insulin that will cause the sugar to be stored as body fat. Then the body will then change the insulin to sugar and it will be stored as fat and instead of burning the body fat for energy it will continue to make more.

You might wonder if you treat your sleep apnea if it will help your hypertension. Studies show that if you treat your sleep apnea you will not only improve your sleeping but so will your hypertension. There are several ways to treat sleep apnea from the mild to the moderate to the severe.

Conservative treatments for the mild cases may be all that is needed to help relieve some of the symptoms of sleep apnea. If you are overweight your doctor might tell you that losing weight will help with your sleep apnea. It is proven if you lose even just ten percent of your weight then that could help lower the symptoms of sleep apnea. If you quit smoking and avoid alcohol and sleeping pills because they are more likely to help collapse the airway while you sleep and make the apnea periods last longer.

Other treatments for mild sleep apnea are change in your sleeping pattern. You need to make the time to sleep in order to not have sleep deprivation. Also changing the position you sleep might help with your breathing. It is common for most people with sleep apnea to sleep on their backs. If you start sleeping on your sides it will help open the airway when you sleep. If you find that you have sinus problems or nasal congestion then there are sprays that can help reduce snoring and improve airflow for more comfortable breathing.

For more moderate to severe treatment there are machines or dental implants that can help. Mechanical therapy uses continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) which is the most common treatment for sleep apnea. This is when you would wear a mask over the nose and mouth. Then you have a machine that forces air through the nose and the mouth. The air pressure is adjusted so there is enough to prevent the upper airway tissue from collapsing while you sleep. This keeps the pressure constant and continuous. CPAP will prevent the airway closure when you are using the machine. Dental implants that help are called mandibular advancement devices and these are for people with mild sleep apnea. They help prevent the tongue from blocking the throat. They can also make the lower jaw move forward and that will help keep the airway open while you sleep.

The last option is surgery and that is for more extreme cases of sleep apnea. There are four types of surgical procedure that help sufferers of sleep apnea. Surgery is just for people who have excessive or malformed tissue that is blocking airflow through the nose or the throat. This can be used for people with deviated septums, enlarged tonsils or a smaller lower jaw and a large tongue. These surgeries are only done after regular sleep apnea treatment has failed.

The first type of surgery is called somnoplasty and that is minimally invasive and uses radiofrequency energy to tighten the soft palate at the back of the throat. The second type of surgery is called UPPP or UP3 (uvulopalatopharyngoplasty) where they remove the soft tissue in the back of the throat and palate that helps increase the width of the airway at the throat opening. The third type of surgery is mandibular/maxillary advancement surgery where they surgically move the jaw and face bones forward to make more room in the back of the throat. This is a procedure that is used only for people with severe to extreme sleep apnea. The fourth and final form of surgery is nasal surgery which corrects the nasal obstruction like a deviated septum.

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