Sleep apnea is a common disorder in which you have pauses in breathing (actually stop breathing) or shallow breaths while you sleep. Breathing pauses can last from a few seconds to minutes. They often occur 5 to 30 times or more an hour. Typically, normal breathing then starts again, sometimes with a loud snort or choking sound. The most common type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea. This most often means that the airway has collapsed or is blocked during sleep.
When I lecture about sleep apnea and heart disease I often ask people to take a deep breath and hold it for about 20 to 30 seconds (why not try it now)…
Okay after the 30 seconds let the breath out. That is how long many people with sleep apnea stop breathing while they sleep, often several times every hour.
Take a look at this short PSA on Sleep Apnea:
Untreated sleep apnea can:
- Increase the risk for high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes!
- Increase the risk for or worsen heart failure
- Lead to irregular heartbeats
- Increase the chance of having work-related or driving accidents
Common symptoms of sleep apnea include:
- Excessive daytime sleepiness/fatigue
- Loud snoring
- Observed episodes of breathing cessation during sleep
- Abrupt awakenings at night sometimes accompanied by shortness of breath
- Awakening with a dry mouth or sore throat
- Morning headaches
- Difficulty staying asleep (insomnia)
Sleep apnea can be treated once it is diagnosed. By treating your sleep apnea you can actually also protect your heart from future problems.
For more info on sleep apnea visit www.sleepapnea.org
For more info about risk factors for heart disease, stroke and diabetes visit www.heart-strong.com
We are nurses practitioners who have spent years taking care of people with heart disease and our mission now is to help people PREVENT heart attacks and strokes. We have written two books that may help you learn about your individual risk factors and what you can do to prevent heart problems, strokes and diabetes. “Take Charge: A Woman’s Guide to a Healthier Heart” and “Take Charge: A Man’s Roadmap to a Healthy Heart – So simple you will not even have to stop and ask for directions” – our books offer realistic steps to help you develop a healthier lifestyle, all of the information in the books comes from the latest medical guidelines available and is written in an easy to follow and understand format.
The May 27th online issue of Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association reported that more than 16% of stroke patients are being discharged without a potentially life-saving medication. These medications are called statins and they are generally used to reduce levels of the artery clogging cholesterol, LDL. Common names for the statins are Lipitor, Zocor, and Crestor.
Dr. Bruce Ovbiagle, associate professor of neurology and director at the UCLA Stroke Prevention Program, UCLA Stroke Center and Department of Neurology stated that about one in ten stroke patients experience a second stroke within a week. If statin therapy is started immediately at the hospital, a second stroke could possibly be prevented.
The good news is that there has been an increase in the number of patients being given prescriptions for the statin medicines between 2005 and 2007. There has been an increase from 76% to nearly 85% of patients receiving statins.
There did seem to be a disparity in the type of patient and geographic location of the patient receiving the statin prescriptions. Women had a 13% lower rate of receiving the medication than men and hospitals in the South were 34% less likely to discharge a patient on a statin than hospitals in the West.
If you or someone you know has suffered a stroke, check your medication list and be sure that a statin (Lipitor, Zocor, Crestor, or one of the others) is on the list. If not, discuss it with your healthcare provider! There are certain medical conditions that would prevent a person from taking a statin medication.
For more valuable health information visit us at www.heart-strong.com.
Why not join us for a cup of java or cup of tea (both are healthy drinks which we will discuss) and listen to a free health seminar.
“Good morning, it’s your healthy wake-up call!”
Board Certified Nurse Practioners and authors Margie Latrella and Carolyn Strimike will discuss simple steps you can take to improve your general health and lower your risk for heart attack, stroke and diabetes. One person dies every minute of every day from heart disease!! Don’t be the next one!
About 80% of heart attacks and strokes are PREVENTABLE by making simple lifestyle changes. Come and learn what they are!
The discussion will be held at the Fine Grind at 101 Newark-Pompton Turnpike, Little Falls on June 23, 2010 at 9:30am
Our two books will also be on sale at the event. Hope to see you there!
from the Stroke Health Center
A stroke happens when a blood vessel carrying oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot (ischemic stroke) or ruptures (hemorrhagic stroke). When this occurs, part of the brain no longer receives the oxygen it needs, and the tissue in that area starts to die.
Transient ischemic attacks (TIAs) consist of stroke-like symptoms, which go away shortly after starting and produce no lasting damage. Even if your symptoms disappear entirely, it is critical that you follow up with a health care professional to address your risk for future stroke.
Warning signs of stroke
- Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
- Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding others
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Sudden dizziness, loss of coordination or balance or trouble walking
- Sudden severe headache with no obvious cause
What to do if you think you’re having a stroke
If you experience any of the warning signs above, call 9-1-1 and get to a hospital as soon as possible. Don’t wait to see if your symptoms improve or disappear. Treatments are available, and the sooner you can get to the hospital, the better your chance of a positive outcome.
Risk Factors for stroke
Risk factors are cumulative, so reducing even one will lower your overall risk of having a stroke.
- Age: The chance of having a stroke approximately doubles for each decade of life after age 55. In addition, researchers have noted a surge in strokes among women between 40 and 55 that can be tied to metabolic risk factors including increased abdominal weight and diabetes. There are also certain risk factors that apply directly to women under 55 (see below).
- Family history: If a parent, grandparent, sister or brother has had a stroke, you are at increased risk of having one too.
- Ethnic background: African Americans have stroke earlier in their lives and are twice as likely to die from stroke than are Caucasians, according to the National Stroke Association. Hispanic Americans and Native Americans also have increased risk for stroke. For these groups, higher rates of stroke risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity, may be responsible for higher rates of stroke.
- Prior stroke or TIA
- High blood pressure : High blood pressure is the leading cause of stroke and the most important controllable risk factor.
- Heart disease or prior heart attack: Heart disease, including arterial disease, coronary heart disease, heart failure and atrial fibrillation, can contribute to an increased risk of stroke.
- Smoking: Cigarette smoking on its own is a significant risk factor for stroke. When oral contraceptives are used in combination with cigarette smoking, stroke risk is greatly increased.
- Poor diet: Diets high in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, and/or sodium can increase stroke risk. In contrast, a diet containing five or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day may reduce risk.
- Also: Diabetes, drug or alcohol abuse, high cholesterol, obesity, physical inactivity or sickle cell anemia all can increase risk for stroke.
Risk factors especially important for women younger than 55
- Migraines: Women who suffer from migraines with visual disturbances can be up to 10 times more likely to suffer a stroke.
- Oral contraceptives: Women who take even a low-estrogen birth control pill may be twice as likely to have a stroke.
- Other risk factors: Autoimmune diseases including type 1 diabetes or lupus, clotting disorders, taking hormone replacement therapy, increased abdominal weight, multiple miscarriages or pregnancy.
For more on stroke, visit: www.healthywomen.org/healthcenter/stroke
© 2010 HealthyWomen All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission from HealthyWomen. 1-877-986-9472 (toll-free). On the Web at: www.HealthyWomen.org.