Sleep Apnea and Related Heart Conditions

Has anyone told you that you make strange breathing noises while you sleep? Sleep apnea is a relatively common problem that causes a people to pause their breathing or to take very shallow breaths while they are sleeping. The pauses or shallow breathing lasts for only a few seconds in some cases, but in other cases it can last for up to a couple of minutes.dem-cpap

The pattern of paused or shallow breathing can occur repeatedly each hour. In most cases, a person resumes normal breathing patterns, but not without emitting a noise such as a “snort” or a choking sound. The effects of sleep apnea vary greatly depending on the person and the severity of the condition. In most instances, sleep apnea results in a poor night’s sleep – which causes a person to be very tired the next day. But sometimes sleep apnea can result in an increased risk of serious medical conditions such as heart attacks, heart failure, irregular heartbeats, and high blood pressure.

Most people do not realize they have sleep apnea until someone tells them. In most cases, sleep apnea is discovered by a spouse, a family member, or anyone who happens to be present while the person with this condition is sleeping. The observer usually notices the person is making strange breathing noises while sleeping. If the problem persists, the individual who  has noticed the breathing problems usually encourages or insists the person with the breathing issues see a doctor. When the odd breathing noises are described, most doctors conclude that sleep apnea may be the cause.

Types of Sleep Apnea:

The two most common type of sleep apnea are Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Controlled Sleep Apnea.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea – this type of apnea is usually caused by some sort of obstruction in the airway. It can also be caused by a collapsed airway. In children, this type of sleep apnea is often caused by enlarged tonsils.

Central Sleep Apnea – this type of apnea is not as common as obstructive apnea. Instead of being related to an obstruction in the airway or to a collapsed airway, it is related to an incorrect signal from the brain that controls a person’s breathing muscles.

Both types of sleep apnea can be serious, and anyone displaying symptoms of either type should be immediately evaluated by a doctor. When sleep apnea is left untreated, a whole host of  medical issues may arise. Not only does sleep apnea increase a patients’ chances of developing serious heart conditions, but sleep apnea also contributes to their increased risk of obesity and diabetes. In addition, because sleep apnea causes a person to be tired during the daytime hours due to insufficient rest during the night, the result is often a higher risk for car accidents and/or work-related accidents.

Whats The Treatment?
Most cases of sleep apnea can be treated. But effective treatment of this chronic condition requires that patients  be committed to the management of their symptoms. For example, sleep apnea is often be treated with apparatuses worn in the mouth while the patient is sleeping. Or, a device that assists with nighttime breathing might be required. In some cases, doctors order  patients with sleep apnea to adjust their lifestyles to be more healthy. In severe cases of sleep apnea, heart conditions are the result. In these situations, it is especially important to follow a doctor’s treatment orders so the condition does not become life threatening.

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Football = Tailgate Parties (and Lots of Unhealthy Food?) Not Necessarily!

1248808306_tailgate-party_1004456Fall is officially here… and you know what that means. It’s time for some football! If you’re into football, you’re also likely into tailgating. And what’s more fun that watching your favorite football team while eating traditional tailgate food? What’s your favorite football season food?  Hotdogs, burgers, ribs, chips, cheese sauce? How about sour cream dips, sausage… and we can’t forget beer!

But all of these items are so un-heart-healthy that it seems almost criminal to not mention healthier food and drink menu alternatives. Tailgating is meant to be fun. The food at tailgating parties is supposed to be delicious. But can tailgating be fun, delicious. AND healthy – - all at the same time? You bet it can!

Here are 3 Healthy Menu Items for Your Next Tailgate Party:

Veggie and Fruit Trays. Almost anyone is willing to substitute veggies for unhealthy chips. Veggies can be munched and crunched and fruit is nice and sweet. Some great alternatives to unhealthy dips include humus and salsa. Veggies such as carrots, celery, radishes, broccoli, cauliflower, and peppers are great for tailgating parties. Fruits that are easy to slice into small one-bite pieces are also always a big hit. How about a fruit salad?

Where’s the Beef? Try eliminating beef from your tailgating party. Chicken, turkey, or veggie burgers are excellent alternatives to red meat… and most people won’t even notice that hamburgers and/or ribs are not offered at the festivities. Yes, it’s true that red meat is delicious and a favorite among tailgaters. But is not eating red meat at a football tailgate party against the law? Absolutely not. Try something different next time, and see just how well it’s received by your friends. And while you’re at it, eliminate the fattening toppers like cheese and mayonnaise!

Dessert. Who needs it? Ok, if you must have dessert at your tailgate party, try to make it something reasonably healthy… or at least healthier than the alternatives. For example, how about frozen yogurt instead of ice cream? There are many recipes on the internet that offer low fat and low calorie versions of cheesecake, cookies, and brownies. You can also incorporate fresh fruit into your dessert options.  This will automatically score points on the health meter.

The most important thing to remember when it comes to tailgate parties is that they can be lots of fun and involve lots of food… but you don’t have to make them unhealthy. There are many heart-healthy food choices that not only taste good, but also contribute to the overall football experience.

A football tailgating party would not be official without an abundance of food and drinks. But the choices can be smart and the portions can be limited. There is no need to overstuff yourself just because there’s a football game! Even if there is an overabundance of food available, try to limit your food intake and don’t graze all day long. You’ll be happier in the end!

The post Football = Tailgate Parties (and Lots of Unhealthy Food?) Not Necessarily! appeared first on Boone Heart Institute | Preventive Cardiology | Denver, Colorado.