Sleep Apnea & Problem Snoring Especially Dangerous for Women’s Hearts
Study points out need for increased awareness
Obstructive sleep apnea ― a condition that’s often accompanied by severe snoring ― is a common, yet dangerous sleep disorder that involves short periods of stopped breathing during sleep.
Studies shows the condition may put people, especially women, at risk for heart problems.
One study looked at data on 4,877 people available through UK Biobank. Results showed that for men and women who reported obstructive sleep apnea or snoring, heart imaging revealed an increased thickness in the left ventricular wall, which is the heart’s main pumping chamber.
However, the difference in thickness was greater for women.
Why these findings are important
Reena Mehra, MD, MS, Director of Sleep Disorders Research, did not take part in the research, but says sleep apnea risks do vary between men and women.
“There are known sex-specific differences in obstructive sleep apnea, in terms of risk across the lifespan and symptoms,” Dr. Mehra says. “We know that obstructive sleep apnea is two to five times more common in men than it is in women. But when women become post-menopausal, their risk for obstructive sleep apnea actually increases.”
The study results, she says, suggest the changes in the hearts of the snoring group could be an indication of undiagnosed obstructive sleep apnea in these women.
Sleep apnea often goes undiagnosed
Many people aren’t aware of the increased risk of obstructive sleep apnea that women face as they age. The increased risk that occurs post-menopause could be due to hormonal changes, Dr. Mehra says, but could also be a result of functional changes in the upper airway.
Women can snore. They may have more fatigue than sleepiness during the daytime. They may have more depression or insomnia. And because sleep apnea is more prevalent in men than women, it may be that we’re looking for it more in men than in women.
The results point to why it’s so important for both men and women to have obstructive sleep apnea diagnosed and treated, Dr. Mehra says.
Help for OSA is available
Dr. Mehra says diagnosing OSA is essential. If left untreated, over time, it’s associated with many negative health outcomes, including sudden, unexpected, nocturnal cardiac death.
“Obstructive sleep apnea is more than just snoring,” she explains. “It can have detriment on quality of life, and our heart health. So those are the two big reasons to treat it.”
Dental Sleep Medicine is an area of clinical expertise which focuses on the management of sleep related breathing disorders, including snoring, noisy disturbed sleep, sleep apnoea, CPAP intolerance and sleep bruxism (teeth grinding), with the design and fitting of customised oral / dental appliances. Click here to download the Beacon Dental Sleep Patient Brochure
What is Oral Appliance Therapy?
An oral appliance is a device worn in the mouth only during sleep. The device fits similar to a sports mouth guard or orthodontic retainer and prevents the airway from collapsing by either supporting the tongue or jaw in a forward position, thereby opening the airway.
With a custom fitted oral appliance, we can help minimise or eliminate the symptoms of Sleep Disordered Breathing. Sleep apnoea (in mild to moderate cases) including loud snoring, gasping and unpleasant noises.
The device can also act as an alternative treatment for patients (on medical advice only) who have been prescribed CPAP by their medical consultant, finding it difficult to adhere to this therapy for management of their sleep apnoea condition.
How does Oral Appliance Therapy Work?
Oral appliances hold the lower jaw in a forward position, dilates the upper airway and preventing it from collapsing. This helps to:
- eliminate or reduce snoring noise levels
- improve sleep quality and general energy levels on wakening
- treat sleep apnoea disease progression
- improves bed partners sleep quality of life.
The Beacon Dental Clinic provide the following additional services
- Referral from consultant led medical diagnosis of sleep disordered breathing, noisy loud snoring and suspected sleep apnoea.
- CBT referral or medical advice for sleep disorder management.
- Dietician and weight management referral if indicated.
- Dental health care education.
Dental Hygienist service and dental health care education
- Advanced restorative prosthodontic care
- Routine in office dental healthcare
Process of our Oral Appliance Therapy Program
If you are referred to the Beacon Dental Sleep Medicine Clinic by a medical consultant, we will then assess your suitability for Oral Appliance Therapy. This will involve a dental examination, an x-ray evaluation and trial lower jaw advancement as indicated. Specific smart phone apps will be recommended to assist in the collection of sleep related noise and disturbances so as to assist in overall management.
If you have not been refereed by a medical practitioner we will assist you with the appropriate assessment and arrange any necessary referral or further investigation as part of your overall management.
In the Treatment phase, you will be fitted with an oral appliance by an experienced restorative dentist with expertise in the field of dental sleep medicine, who will control and monitor your progress and response to treatment. All patients of the Beacon Dental Sleep Medicine Clinic are seen one week and one month following initial appliance delivery. You will also be provided with clear instructions as to the best use and care of your oral appliance.
Follow up appointments
Following habituation to appliance wearing nightly we will arrange (if necessary) for further evaluation of the efficacy of the therapy. This will involve specific user friendly overnight home based testing with sensor technology. This will be activated through a straightforward phone app download.
All patients with sleep apnoea diagnosis are referred back at this stage to their medical consultant for evaluation. The oral appliance is re-evaluated at the Beacon Dental Clinic at specified internals to evaluate its mechanical integrity and performance.
Oral Appliance Therapy
Dentists have pioneered the use of oral appliance therapy for the treatment of sleep apnoea and sleep related breathing disorders. An oral appliance is a device worn in the mouth only during sleep. The device fits like a sports mouth guard or orthodontic retainer and prevents the airway from collapsing by either holding the tongue or supporting the jaw in a forward position. With an oral appliance, dentists can minimise or eliminate the symptoms of sleep apnoea in mild to moderate cases.
How a Sleep Dental Device works
Dentists with training in oral appliance therapy work closely with sleep physicians in the diagnosis, treatment and ongoing care for sleep related breathing disorders. The Irish Sleep Society, the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommend that a physician must diagnose sleep disorders including sleep apnoea. Sleep physicians at sleep laboratories use an overnight sleep study to detect and diagnose sleep apnoea.
Once a patient is diagnosed with sleep apnoea or a sleep related breathing disorder, dentists may provide treatment. Dentists assist patients in the selection and fitting of an oral appliance and provide long-term follow-up care.
Medical Diagnosis and Sleep Studies
It is important that an appropriate diagnosis and investigation is made by the relevant physician to evaluate the significance of snoring or sleep related disorders. Highlighting these issues through questionnaire based screening tools such as the Epworth Sleepiness Scale Self-test or the STOP-BANG Questionnaire sleep recording phone apps are helpful.
More sophisticated methods ranging from specialised sensor activated home sleep testing to hospital based overnight full sleep studies can all be employed in characterising the medical significance or otherwise of many sleep related problems.
About Dental Sleep Medicine at The Beacon Dental Clinic
As director of the Beacon Dental Group Dr Edward G Owens is a hospital affiliated Prosthodontist. He has been working successfully with oral appliances to treat snoring and obstructive sleep apnoea since 1997.
He collaborates with major hospital sleep disorder clinics and has been active in the management of oral sleep appliances and the development of Dental Sleep Medicine in Ireland.
Dr Ed Owens is one of a very small number of dentists qualified with recognised expertise in assessing and treating patients with Sleep Disordered breathing in Ireland. He is certified by the American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine as having undergone specialist education and qualification to best manage patients with a range of Sleep Disordered Breathing presentations and guide them into their optimal sleep, with the use of an individualised oral device.
Dr Owens works with physicians and surgeons in the recognised leading centres of established expertise in Sleep Medicine in Ireland, including St Vincent’s University Hospital, The Mater University Hospital, Beaumont Hospital, St James Hospital, The Beacon Hospital and the Hermitage Clinic, amongst many other hospitals around the country.
He has been working with a wide range of patients presenting with a range of Sleep Disordered Breathing presentations successfully for over 20 years. Many patients have been successfully treated by oral appliance therapy and enjoyed the benefits of enhanced sleep, which in turn results in a measurable improvement in sleep quality through Sleep Studies and their overall general health.
Good quality sleep is responsible for a variety of measurable patient benefits including mood, enhanced daytime energy, the control and enhancement of cardiac and respiratory health, amongst many other health benefits. All these benefits are measurable and have been shown to increase overall general health in many studies and published papers.
Spousal or sleeping partner disturbance and anxiety is often a factor in someone presenting for assistance in the management of Sleep Disordered Breathing. Patients making respiratory noise at night, snoring and/or appearing to gasp for air on occasion during the night as observed by a partner, is often the trigger to seeking help.
We encourage patient partners to attend as this often helps through a more detailed understanding, to reduce anxiety, which may sometimes be experienced around Sleep Disordered Breathing conditions.
Beacon Dental Sleep Medicine Clinic is based in the Beacon Dental Clinic, Beacon Consultants Clinic, Dublin, D18 E7P4, Ireland
Tel: +353 01 5310088| Fax: +353 1 213 5645 | Email: email@example.com