February is American Heart Month, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other organizations have been highlighting the risks of heart disease and offering tips for better heart health. One key area of focus related to cardiovascular health is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
Among the many dangers of sleep apnea are heightened risks for:
- Heart attack
- Cardiac arrhythmia
Likewise, people with sleep apnea or heart conditions often share risk factors including:
- Being overweight
- Having high blood pressure
- Having diabetes
Although it is estimated that more than 20 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea, many people with sleep apnea are not aware they have a form of this potentially deadly condition. Many sleep apnea symptoms, such as chronic snoring or frequent sleep interruptions, go unnoticed or ignored by those suffering from OSA.
Often, it is up to a partner or other family member to encourage a loved one to seek diagnosis and treatment for sleep apnea. Fortunately, there are an increasing number of dentists who specialize in the field of dental sleep medicine and a growing number of treatments.
Many instances of sleep apnea can be treated with custom-made oral appliances similar to sports mouthguards. These devices are designed to help keep your jaw in proper alignment as you sleep in order to help you maintain an open airway.