Monday, August 24, 2009

SLEEP AND THE HEART

Sleep is one of the less noted or talked about problems in medicine. In fact when I was in medical school, there were very few sleep disorders taught. Even those taught were usually psychiatric related. Related to Freud and his theories. Acute and chronic depression for example.
Well over the years we are learning that actually sleep forms a very vital part of our health. Inability to rest well at night ( sleep ) gives rise to all kinds of health problems, physical ones I mean. Sleep apnea ( the extreme example ) we now know to be closely related to hypertension and heart disease. More recently, there have been much work done to show that sleep may reflect cardiac health. In the 18th Aug on-line edition of the Public Library of Science medicine, Dr N Punjabi and colleagues from the John Hopkins Medical School, reported their study of a community cohort of 6441 subjects with sleep disorders of various degrees, from an age range of 40-70 years, with followup over 8.2 years. They found that at the end of the followup period, there were. 1047 deaths. Those with sleep disorders were 1.5 times more likely to die from a cardiac event. They divided the sleep disorders into various grades and categories and found that those with the more severe sleep disorders were more like to die, from a cardiac event.
Well, it may be time for all of us to pay sometime to our sleep and make sure that we have 6-8 hours of sleep with adequate periods of deep sleep ( REM sleep ), and that our partners report to us, if we snore excessively, or if we have sleep apnea. We should also pay attention to the fact that we should not be unduely tired the next day. Snoring, with periods of noisy grunting respiration, followed by a cessation ( stop breathing ) in respiration, and feeling very tired the next day ( so tired that we fall asleep while driving the next day ), should make us seek medical attention, in case we have sleep apnea. I had a patient who fall asleep at the traffic light and had all the cars honking.
Sleep apnea is a treatable condition. You would need to consult a neurologist and he will confirm the diagnosis and also prescrobe the treatment.
Remember, a good night's sleep is good for the heart.

1 comment:

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Treatment for Sleep Apnea