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Is untreated OSA increasing your vulnerability to viruses?

Posted on March 9th, 2020

The 2020 Flu and RSV seasons have been terrible, and now Americans face the added threat of the Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19). Could your untreated sleep apnea be putting you at greater risk for complications from seasonal viruses?

The CDC has warned that adults with heart disease have a higher risk of Flu complications, and scientists are discovering that people with heart disease have a much higher risk of developing the most severe forms of CoVid-19.

So what does this have to do with that snoring you’ve been waving off as no big deal?  Untreated sleep apnea can exacerbate or cause heart disease as well as many other chronic issues such as type 2 diabetes.  

Your body needs deep sleep to heal. When your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen during sleep, you experience a microarousal – that is, you wake up just enough to catch your breath. You won’t remember these frequent wake-ups in the morning, but they take a steady toll on your body. Over time, they can damage your cardiovascular system.

I already have cardiovascular issues. What can I do?

Even if your OSA has caused heart issues, it’s not too late. If you get your sleep apnea diagnosed and treated, you can reverse some of the damage to your cardiovascular symptom, improve your biomarkers, and reduce your risk of complications from flu or CoVid-19. Either a CPAP machine or an oral appliance can help your body get enough oxygen to improve your sleep.  

Get screened for sleep apnea today. Talk to your PCP or dentist at your next appointment. Get a referral for a sleep study. Once you’re diagnosed, comply with the treatment plan put together with your care team.

This year, the viruses circulating have been especially hard on people with heart disease. So let this be your wake-up call. Take steps to improve your sleep and heal your heart.

Dr. Meghna Dassani has practiced dentistry for over two decades and is passionate about the role dentists play in whole-body health. You can learn more at her website: MeghnaDassani.com.

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