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Sleep disorder affects heartbeat

Last month I reviewed a study that linked an irregular heart beat with dementia. Now a new study has linked irregular heart beat with sleep apnea and sleep breathing disorders.

This study showed older men who had sleep breathing disorders were more likely to have an irregular heart beat (or arrhythmia). In an arrhythmia the heartbeats can be too slow, too fast, too irregular, or too early. In a nutshell, the heart loses its rhythm!

Video: What is cardiac arrhythmia?

I liked this quick animated video which gives an inside view of the heart during arrhythmia.

The sleep disorder and heart beat study

Researchers studied 2,911 men who underwent sleep testing. They recorded the number of times they experienced apnea (brief pauses in breathing) or hypopnea (shallow breathing) during sleep. They also tracked when blood oxygen levels in their arteries dropped below 90%. Below 90% is considered to be hypoxia, which is inadequate oxygen for the body.

What they found …

Researchers found that having more episodes of paused or shallow breathing was linked to an increase in having arrhythmias of both of the heart’s chambers.

Obstructive sleep apnea, a partial or complete blockage of the airways, was found to increase the risk of irregular heartbeats in the lower chambers or ventricles. Low blood oxygen levels were also found with arrhythmia in the lower chambers.

The study which showed that increasingly severe sleep related breathing disorders in older men were associated with a greater risk of abnormal heart rhythms or arrhythmias, was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

If you think you may have sleep breathing problems visit the NHLBI website for good information on sleep apnea.

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About Kellie

Kellie is 37 years old and together with her brother Steve makes up the My Health Software team.

She helps on the websites and gathering news for the programs. Kellie worked in the medical industry prior to having her two children (8 and 6) and has a strong interest in self awareness and management of health conditions.


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