Know your number: snoring, blood pressure and your health

Every year, around 125,000 adults suffer heart attacks or strokes through high blood pressure. But many aren’t aware that that snoring could be a contributing factor.

Do you know what your blood pressure should be? Lots of people in the UK don’t. That’s why Blood Pressure UK are promoting ‘Know Your Numbers Week’, starting on 18th September.


What is high blood pressure?

When your doctor measures your blood pressure, they’ll give it as 2 numbers.  The first number measures the pressure of your blood as your heart beats and pushes blood around your body. The second figure measurers the pressure of your blood as your heart rests between beats.

For a healthy blood pressure reading, your first number should be more than 90, but less than 120. The second number should be between 60 and 80.

But if that first figure is between 120 and 140, then you’re categorised as ‘pre-high blood pressure’. Over 140, and you have ‘high blood pressure’. This is also known as hypertension – and it’s a key factor in your risk of heart attack, stroke and even kidney disease.


How is blood pressure damaging to your health?

Your blood carries oxygen from your lungs. It also carries other nutrients around your body. Blood needs to be under some pressure to move it through your blood vessels. The beats of your heart supply the pressure that pushes your blood through these vessels.

Snoring is a sign that your breathing is not as efficient whilst you’re asleep. Inefficient breathing results in not enough oxygen getting to your lungs. This means that your heart has to beat harder and faster to get oxygen around your body. This extra work creates a higher than normal pressure in your blood vessels. Overworked hearts are more likely to fail, potentially sparking a fatal heart attack.  Over-stressed blood vessels are more likely to leak or even burst. Blood leaking into the brain is the cause of stroke.

Research is providing more and more evidence that sleep-related breathing disorders, such as obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) are linked to high blood pressure.


Know Your Numbers – snoring and high blood pressure

It’s estimated that there are around 25 million snorers in the UK. Roughly 1.5 million adults are thought to suffer from OSA, a severe sleep disorder – and 85% of these are undiagnosed and untreated. Around 50% of patients with hypertension also have OSA. Studies show that patients who received treatment for their OSA also lowered their blood pressure.


How to stop snoring and reduce your risk of hypertension

Taking action to reduce your snoring can help reduce your blood pressure and your risk of heart attack and stroke.

If you think you might have OSA, you should see your doctor. Treatments include using CPAP (constant positive airway pressure) and oral devices. Your doctor will be able to advise which is the best treatment for your needs.


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