High blood pressure: Does high blood pressure cause sleep apnea?

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High blood pressure is primarily a concern people will have to reckon with in later life but can cause significant discomfort or even death. Conditions caused by high blood pressure include heart attacks, heart disease, strokes, heart failure and even kidney disease. Sometimes people will attribute diseases to high blood pressure where it isn’t an immediate cause, however.

Does high blood pressure cause sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a disorder that people often mistake for chronic snoring.

But it is a little more dangerous than garden variety snoring and comes in three types.

Symptoms of obstructive and central sleep apnea syndrome often overlap, and they can eventually cause complex sleep apnea syndrome.

Sleep apnea manifests with the following signs:

  • Loud snoring
  • Periods where people stop breathing in their sleep
  • Gasping for air during sleep
  • Waking up with a dry mouth
  • A morning headache
  • Insomnia
  • Excessive sleepiness during the day (known as hypersomnia)
  • Irritability
  • Attention and concentration issues

Obstructive sleep apnea is rooted in related throat muscles that support the soft palate.

These cause people’s airways to narrow, resulting in less air and an oxygen reduction.

The brain will often detect this and wake people up, causing a repeating pattern that culminates in insomnia.

Central sleep apnea forms when the brain struggles to transmit signals to breathing muscles.

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At times, this will briefly cause people to stop breathing while they sleep.

Anyone can develop sleep apnea regardless of their health, and researchers have not identified high blood pressure as a primary cause.

However, they have listed a selection of potential risk factors and complications from the condition.

Blood pressure sits in both of these categories.

Risk factors for sleep apnea include:

  • Being overweight
  • Having a thicker neck
  • Having a narrow airway
  • Being a man
  • Being older
  • Having a family history of sleep apnea
  • Using alcohol or drugs such as sedatives or tranquillisers
  • Medical conditions (including high blood pressure, Parkinson’s disease and diabetes)
  • Nasal congestion
  • Smoking

Potential complications of sleep apnea include:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Heart problems
  • High blood pressure
  • Medication complications
  • Liver problems
  • Impacted household sleeping habits
  • Daytime fatigue

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