Congestive Heart Failure and Sleep Apnea

How to Prevent and Treat Sleep Apnea Heart Damage

Congestive heart failure occurs if your heart cannot fill up with enough blood or pump sufficient amounts of blood with enough force to the rest of your body.

Because of the decreased blood flow, your body cannot function normally. Fluid accumulates in the lungs, ankles, or legs, creating general fatigue and shortness of breath.

If the leg arteries are affected, you may experience fatigue or pain in the lower extremities, especially upon walking.


Congestive heart failure is the main cause of death in sleep apnea patients, along with vehicle accidents.

Studies have shown that 35% of patients with heart failure have obstructive sleep apnea.

In this video you will learn more about heart failure:

What is Heart Failure and How it Manifests Throughout the Body?


For more info on heart failure, see What is Congestive Heart Failure.


What are the Causes of Heart Failure?

The most common cause of heart failure is the damage to the muscles of your heart, as a result of previous heart attacks. However, there is an increasing evidence that sleep apnea has a link with heart failure.

For example, a recent study shows that patients with severe and moderate obstructive sleep apnea had higher left ventricular mass and left ventricular mass index, and left ventricular global dysfunction.

If you have central apnea, your situation can be more dangerous compared with people who have obstructive apnea. Most individuals with central sleep apnea have heart failure, and they also have an increased risk of death.

The severity of sleep apnea goes hand in hand with the severity of heart failure. As you probably know, sleep apnea can:

  • increase blood pressure,
  • impair ventricular function,
  • increase pulmonary artery pressure,
  • cause diabetes, when your risk for heart failure can be eight times greater that of someone who doesn't have diabetes.

All these side effects of apnea in sleep can worsen congestive heart failure.


Other heart failure causes are:

  • diabetes

  • heart muscle disease or inflammation

  • thyroid disease

  • severe lung disease

For more info causes, see Causes of Heart Failure.


Heart Failure Symptoms

The damage of heart failure is permanent.

Once it happens, it doesn't go away, even if medication or surgery makes your symptoms disappear.

The more damage your heart receives, the less able it is to sustain the lifestyle you want to live.

This is why prevention is so critical and the earlier you start, the better your chances of saving your heart.

Heart failure is a gradual and progressive disease that may take many years to reach the point of symptoms.


The signs of heart failure

The signs of heart failure often appear after physical activity, and as the disease gets more severe, the symptoms last longer.

Here are the most common symptoms of heart failure:

  • shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing,
  • tiredness and weakness,
  • swelling of the ankles, feet, legs, or abdomen,
  • weight gain from water build-up,
  • coughing, especially at night or when lying down, including bloody spit.

For more info about symptoms, see Heart Failure Symptoms.


Heart Failure Treatment

If you think you have symptoms of heart failure, pick up the phone and schedule an immediate appointment with your doctor to evaluate your symptoms. And if you have sleep apnea, you should tell him about your sleep problem, too.

Heart failure is sometimes only a side effect from a serious disorder, and treating your heart with medications and surgery will not be complete without treating that serious disorder.

Sleep related breathing disorders are highly prevalent in patients with established cardiovascular disease, and you learned that central sleep apnea occurs mainly in patients with heart failure.


Treatment Options for Congestive Heart Failure

Treatment options for heart failure are:


If you have obstructive sleep apnea, you want to reduce weight and to abstain from alcohol and sedatives which may cause pharyngeal collapse during sleep. These general measures may reduce the severity of your heart failure and the severity of obstructive apnea.

Treating apnea in sleep  may be relevant in patients with heart failure and sleep disorders. However, this does not imply that all patients with hypertension, atrial fibrillation, angina, or heart failure should be treated the same way.

There is no evidence that specific drugs used to treat heart failure have any direct influence on the severity of sleep apnea.

In general, once the disease takes hold of your heart, the most common interventions are drugs and surgery. But if you have sleep apnea, you may discover that heart failure will improve during the apnea treatment.

Moreover, lifestyle changes are an element of intervention in helping your heart, too.


Natural Remedies for Heart Failure

All treatment approaches work better when you also improve your diet, exercise regularly, and avoid smoking.

However, if you want to use herbal or natural remedies as part of your treatment program, you need to know that some substances have harmful effects in combination with medications to treat heart problems or when heart disease exists.


For more info about treatments, see Congestive Heart Failure Treatment.



Some more interesting pages for you to check out:



› Congestive Heart Failure

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