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Health Fusion: Why treat obstructive sleep apnea? It makes heart disease worse

Medical experts send out a plea for people to pay attention to obstructive sleep apnea, because of its connection to heart disease. In this episode on NewsMD's podcast, "Health Fusion," Viv Williams reviews the American Heart Association's suggestions for people who have it.

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You may have heard that the American Heart Association (AHA) wants people to pay attention to obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), especially if they have heart disease or risk factors, such as high blood pressure. Well, I'm going to tell you about it too. It's important. The AHA put out a scientific statement in the journal, Circulation, because OSA can make heart disease symptoms worse.

Obstructive sleep apnea is when an obstruction disrupts your breathing at night. You might have symptoms like snoring or daytime sleepiness. In the statement, the experts say that from 40% to 80% of people with heart disease have OSA, but it's under-recognized an undertreated.

"Obstructive sleep apnea can negatively impact patients’ health and increase the risk of cardiovascular events and death. This statement is to encourage increased awareness, screening and treatment as appropriate for sleep apnea,” said Dr. Yerem Yeghiazarians, chair of the scientific statement writing group and professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.

Risk factors for OSA include, high blood pressure, heart rhythm issues, worsening heart failure or coronary artery disease, pulmonary hypertension, metabolic syndrome or Type 2 diabetes.

The experts also say that if you're worried about having to take time to do a sleep study, you might not have to. There are new ways to both diagnose and treat obstructive sleep apnea, depending on severity of your disease.

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For comments or other podcast episode ideas, email Viv Williams at vwilliams@newsmd.com . Or on Twitter/Instagram/FB @vivwilliamstv.

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