Snoring may be a gateway to higher risk of heart disease than those who are overweight, smoke or have high cholesterol, according to a new finding.
Snoring is tied to increased thickening of the lining of the two large blood vessels that supply the brain with oxygenated blood. It is a precursor to hardening of the arteries responsible for many vascular and heart diseases.
"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 apnea, high blood pressure or other risk factors for cardiovascular disease," said Robert Deeb, otolaryngologist at Henry Ford Hospital, Detroit, the journal The Laryngoscope reports.
"Our study adds to the growing body of evidence suggesting that isolated snoring may not be as benign as first suspected. 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," added Deed, according to a Henry Ford statement.
The study reveals changes in the carotid artery with snorers - even for those without sleep apnea - likely due to the trauma and subsequent inflammation caused by the vibrations of snoring.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) - a sleep disorder that occurs due to the collapse of the airway in the throat during sleep and causes loud snoring and periodic pauses in breathing - has long been linked to cardiovascular disease, along with a host of other serious health issues.
But the risk for cardiovascular disease may actually begin with snoring, long before it becomes OSA. Until now, there was little evidence in humans to show a similar connection between snoring and cardiovascular risk.
For the Henry Ford study, Deeb and senior study author Kathleen Yaremchuk, reviewed data for 913 patients who had been evaluated by the institution's sleep centre.
These findings were presented at the 2013 Combined Sections Meeting of the Triological Society in Scottsdale, Arizona.