Thickening in the lining of the two large blood vessels, which supply the brain with oxygenated blood, has often been thought of as a precursor to atherosclerosis – a condition responsible for many vascular diseases. This thickening in the carotid artery, according to the study, (conducted by the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, is often brought about by the inflammation caused by the vibrations of snoring.
“Snoring is more than a bedtime annoyance and it shouldn’t be ignored. Patients need to seek treatment in the same way they would if they had sleep apnea, high blood pressure or other risk factors for cardiovascular disease,” says lead study author Robert Deeb, M.D.
“Our study adds to the growing body of evidence suggesting that isolated snoring may not be as benign as first suspected. So instead of kicking your snoring bed partner out of the room or spending sleepless nights elbowing him or her, seek out medical treatment for the snorer.”
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) – a common sleep disorder that is triggered by the collapse of the airway in the throat during sleep (causing snoring and disrupted breathing), has long been linked to cardiovascular disease, as well as other more serious health issues.
But, according to the Scottsdale study, the risk of cardiovascular disease could actually begin with the snoring itself, long before this progresses into OSA – a link that had not been made until now.
For the study, senior study author Dr. Deeb and senior and Kathleen Yaremchuk, M.D., reviewed the results of 913 patients aged 18-50, who had participated in a diagnostic sleep study – but none of which suffered from sleep apnea.
The Henry Ford study found that when compared to non-snorers, snorers had a much greater intima-media thickness of the carotid arteries, meaning they were at a greater risk of carotid artery disease.
“Snoring is generally regarded as a cosmetic issue by health insurance, requiring significant out-of-pocket expenses by patients,” added Dr. Deeb.
He advises patients who suffer from snoring to get the early treatment they need, before more serious health issues arise.