man in white pajamas sleeping and snoring

At Northern Virginia Sleep Solutions, we are dedicated to providing valuable information and effective solutions for those struggling with sleep disorders. We want to shed light on an often underestimated relationship that exists between untreated sleep apnea and various heart issues. By understanding this connection, we can recognize the significance of seeking treatment and taking proactive measures to protect our cardiovascular health.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder characterized by interrupted breathing during sleep. It occurs when the airway becomes blocked or collapses, leading to pauses in breathing that can last from a few seconds to minutes. This disruption results in a decrease in blood oxygen levels, causing the brain to signal the body to wake up and resume normal breathing. These constant disruptions prevent individuals from experiencing deep, restful sleep, leading to daytime sleepiness and fatigue.

The Link with Heart Issues

Numerous studies have demonstrated a strong correlation between untreated sleep apnea and a range of heart issues, including heart attack, stroke, atrial fibrillation (AFib), and high blood pressure.

Heart Attack

Sleep apnea is associated with an increased risk of heart attacks. The repeated drops in blood oxygen levels experienced by individuals with untreated sleep apnea can trigger the release of stress hormones and cause inflammation, which may damage the walls of the coronary arteries. Over time, this damage can contribute to the formation of arterial plaques, increasing the risk of a heart attack.


Sleep apnea is an independent risk factor for stroke. The intermittent oxygen deprivation and the resulting blood pressure fluctuations caused by untreated sleep apnea can lead to the development of blood clots, which may block blood vessels supplying the brain. Additionally, the chronic inflammation and oxidative stress associated with sleep apnea can further contribute to the risk of stroke.

Atrial Fibrillation (AFib)

AFib, a condition characterized by irregular and rapid heart rhythms, is closely linked to untreated sleep apnea. The episodes of oxygen deprivation caused by sleep apnea can disrupt the electrical signals that regulate the heart’s rhythm. This disruption can trigger or worsen AFib, potentially leading to complications such as blood clots, heart failure, and stroke.

High Blood Pressure

Sleep apnea and high blood pressure often go hand in hand. The frequent awakenings caused by sleep apnea activate the body’s stress response, resulting in increased production of stress hormones like adrenaline. These hormones can raise blood pressure levels, and over time, the sustained elevation of blood pressure can contribute to the development of hypertension.

Treating Your Sleep Disorder and Protecting Your Heart

The connection between untreated sleep apnea and heart issues highlights the importance of seeking diagnosis and treatment for sleep apnea. Fortunately, effective treatment options are available, including continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy, oral appliances, lifestyle modifications, and surgery in certain cases.

By addressing sleep apnea, individuals can significantly reduce their risk of heart-related complications. Improved sleep quality and the restoration of normal oxygen levels contribute to a healthier cardiovascular system. Additionally, treating sleep apnea can lead to increased energy levels, improved mood, and enhanced overall well-being.

Contact our Alexandria Sleep Apnea Experts Today!

At Northern Virginia Sleep Solutions, we urge anyone experiencing symptoms of sleep apnea, such as loud snoring, daytime fatigue, or observed pauses in breathing during sleep, to consult with a sleep specialist. Remember, a good night’s sleep is not just about feeling rested—it’s about safeguarding your heart health and ensuring a healthier, happier life.

Don’t let sleep apnea silently jeopardize your heart. Take control of your sleep, and take care of your heart!

Posted on behalf of Northern Virginia Sleep Solutions

1725 Duke St, Suite GR03
Alexandria, VA 22314

Phone: (571) 290-7977

Monday, Friday 8:00 AM – 3:00 PM
Tuesday - Thursday 7:00 AM – 5:00 PM