Snorers 'more at risk of heart attack than smokers or obese'
New connection between between 'plain' snoring – not more severe sleep apnoea – and cardiovascular riskSnorers more likely to
have thickening or abnormalities in the carotid artery that supplies the
brain with bloodSnorers must seek treatment in the same way as those with high blood pressure or heart disease risk factors
13:01 GMT, 25 January 2013
01:48 GMT, 26 January 2013
Snorers are more likely to have a heart attack than smokers or the obese, say researchers.
Far from being merely a nuisance, snoring could be the early warning sign of life-threatening health problems, they warn.
US researchers believe that the condition may cause a thickening of the arteries which can lead to brain haemorrhages, strokes and heart attacks.
Snorers are more likely to have thickening or abnormalities in the carotid artery that supplies the brain with oxygenated blood
Around a quarter of women and four in
ten men are frequent snorers, although nearly half of us snore
occasionally. Though it can interfere with our sleep – and that of our
partners – it was not thought to cause any long-term health problems
American researchers claim the condition is as serious as having high blood pressure and urge snorers to seek medical advice.
A team from the University of Detroit
found that frequent snorers are far more likely to develop a thickening
of the carotid artery – which supplies oxygenated blood to the brain.
The condition has also been linked to
hardening of other arteries in the body and can lead to heart attacks,
strokes and brain haemorrhages.
Dr Robert Deeb, from the Henry Ford
Hospital in Detroit, who led the research said: ‘Our study adds to the
growing body of evidence suggesting isolated snoring may not be as
benign as first suspected.
Changes in the carotid artery are a precursor a hardening of the arteries, which can cause heart attacks and brain haemorrhages (pictured)
‘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.’ Dr Deeb and his
colleagues studied 54 men and women aged 18 to 50.
They had all filled in questionnaires
about their snoring habits and then had ultrasound scans to look at the
thickness of their carotid artery. The researchers found that the
innermost layers of the artery walls were far thicker among the snorers
than the other adults.
Dr Deeb added: ‘Snoring is generally
regarded as a cosmetic issue by health insurance, requiring significant
expenses by patients.
‘We are hoping to change that thinking
so patients can get the early treatment they need, before more serious
health issues arise.’
He said that the thickening of the artery may be caused by the constant vibrations of the snoring which results in inflammation.
The researchers now hope to carry out a
larger study to see if snorers are more likely to have heart attacks
and strokes. Dr Deeb, who has submitted his findings to the Laryngoscope
journal for publication, said: ‘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 apnoea, high blood pressure or
other risk factors for cardiovascular disease.’
Last year researchers from the University of Wisconsin, in the US, said that snorers were more likely to die from cancer.
The study of 1,500 adults found that moderate snorers were at 4.8 times greater risk of death.