Heavy snorers are twice as likely to suffer a fatal stroke

The key findings of this new research were as follows:

  • A major study of more than 25,000 people found the risk of a fatal blood clot more than doubled if someone snored through the night.
  • They were also 80 per cent more likely to have heart disease
  • Heavy snorers are twice as likely to suffer a deadly stroke than those who spend their nights sleeping peacefully.

Young woman and her snoring boyfriend
A major study of more than 25,000 people found the risk of a fatal blood clot more than doubled if someone snored through the night. These alarming findings, published in the International Journal of Cardiology, suggest the dangers of heavy snoring are greater than previously thought.

Around three million people suffer with the snoring condition sleep apnoea, with at least one in four men and one in ten women affected. There are however, millions of other heavy snorers who go undiagnosed.

As sleep begins, the muscles in the airways relax. While this does not pose a problem for most people, in sleep apnoea it leads to breathing being shut off for at least ten seconds. Air vibrates against the soft tissue that stands in its way, causing the characteristic ‘rasping’ sound that snorers make.

Once the brain realises breathing has stopped, it sends out a signal for the airway muscles to contract again. This opens the airway and the sufferer normally wakes with a jolt. Scientists believe that the problem stems from the blood flow to the heart and the brain being affected by snoring causing constant interruptions to the breathing pattern.

In mild sleep apnoea, this can happen once every ten minutes. But in more severe cases, it means sleep can be disturbed every couple of minutes. The treatment for chronic sufferers usually involves sleeping with a mask that pumps air into the throat continuously throughout the night.

But tens of thousands of sufferers are thought to go untreated, and the latest study suggests that the dangers to the heart and brain are greater than doctors previously thought. Chronic sufferers are often diagnosed and treated but moderate to heavy sufferers were seen to be at most risk as they are often undiagnosed and unaware.

As a consequence, they are now often recommended to wear simple oral appliances – ‘stop snoring mouth guards’ that reposition the jaw slightly and prevent snoring in almost all cases.

Although scientists think that the problem stems from the blood flow to the heart and brain being affected by constant breathing interruptions, it may also be due to the fact that heart rate and blood pressure are repeatedly jolted out of their naturally lower state during deep sleep.

Strokes hit 150,000 people every year, with 30,000 of them being fatal. Only cancer and heart disease kill more people.

The researchers said: ‘Patients who snore heavily or suffer from sleep apnoea will be at higher risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke and death’. These comments are endorsed by The British Heart Foundation, whose spokesperson added, ‘For many people, it is linked to risk factors for your heart, such as obesity.’

John Redfern

Are these the top UK areas for snoring?

NHS Choices lists obesity as the first cause of snoring on their website; a noise that is caused by the vibration of the soft tissue in your head and neck as you breathe in. While you are asleep, the airways in your neck and head relax and narrow. It is thought the narrowing of the airways increases the speed at which you are breathing out, and it changes the air pressure in your airways. This causes the soft tissue to vibrate by sucking the sides of the airways in. It is something that we know will worsen over time.

As so few people like to admit that they snore, or may not know because they live alone, then many cases are undiagnosed and it is difficult to assess the number of total sufferers, although estimates are as high as 50% of men, and are only 10% lower for women – but fast catching up. So how can we obtain detailed information on this snoring epidemic; perhaps through the very accurate figures the Health Service has on obesity levels.

Obesity figures may show us the main areas in the UK for snoring, with some shocking new results defining that more than three-quarters of people in some areas are overweight or obese. This new league table of the country’s fattest towns and cities from Public Health England, has revealed in stark detail the extent of the country’s obesity problem detailing the fattest and thinnest parts of England – and perhaps the noisiest at nightime too.

Public Health Figures Highest and Lowest Proportions of People Who Are Overweight

Surprisingly some, such as Copeland in The Lake District, are in or near beautiful rural areas where one would think to find some of our fittest citizens. Meanwhile, the ‘thinnest local authorities’ include many in London, such as Kensington and Chelsea (45.9%) and Richmond upon Thames (47.6%). Nine of the top ten thinnest are in our capital city.

As we already know of the previously established close relationship between snoring and being overweight, it is more than likely that these incredibly startling obesity figures also reflect the pattern of snoring in the UK.

Public Health England have published the figures in a number of different ways that underline the clear regional pattern of the problem; something that could possibly highlight the key areas that the NHS should target for stop snoring solutions. This would be something that may well save many lives, and save the public purse a lot of money in the NHS budget.

A reason for the increase, along with changing lifestyle patterns and convenience/fast food, may also be that because snoring leaves you poorly rested and suffering from fatigue, that you are less likely to exercise and be active, so perpetuating the problem on a daily basis; the inactivity causing weight gain over a period of time.

The effects on our health are extraordinary with recent surging increases in diabetes and cardiovascular problems in particular as a result of this, both of which are life threatening and cost the NHS billions each year. Diabetes in particular is growing as a problem – one in 17 now have a diabetic problem. In 7 years the total has increased by one million to over 3.2 million sufferers, with an estimated 850,000 still undiagnosed.

£14 billion a year is spent by the NHS on diabetes – 10% of their total budget.

Stopping snoring and reducing weight at the same time can go a long way to reducing this amount and slashing the number of sufferers afflicted. The first is easy, and can be done with an inexpensive oral appliance overnight – the weight loss takes time and application.

John Redfern

How Chin Straps can help you to stop snoring

Snoring is becoming an issue that most people are facing everyday. In fact, recent research estimates that as many as 45% of men and approximately 30% of women are habitual snorers. Many cases are undiagnosed, or the individual simply refuses to accept that they snore, and have a problem.

Due to lifestyle factors such as increased weight, these figures are rapidly increasing. Although traditionally linked with middle age, the increase in obesity has identified snoring as an ‘all ages’ problem, and is highly prevalent in younger people, especially females, and also even in children.

There are various medically accepted ways to prevent snoring these tend to fall into three categories – two of which are both simple, and inexpensive, The third route, which is much more complex and only for very serious cases, is where the patient suffers from severe obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA), and requires the constant use of CPAP equipment (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure). This is an appliance which supplies a continuous forced flow of oxygen throughout the night by using a small bedside electrical pump, linked to an oxygen supply tank, and delivering it under pressure by way of a face mask.

3 options to stop snoring

The other two methods employ much simpler and easier methods, which are far less intrusive, but are still highly effective with satisfaction levels of 98%. The options are to use either a chin strap, or a mouthpiece – both very similar to sports guards which we see worn regularly in sports such as Rugby.

Which stop snoring method do you need – a Mouthpiece or a Chin Strap?

These two items are totally different, but both work to stop you snoring in different ways, dependent upon why the problem exists in the first place. It is very important to identify which one you need as they work in totally different ways to solve very different causes of the same problem.

Chin straps are mostly appropriate for those who suffer from open-mouthed snoring and wrap around the jaw and head to prevent the mouth from falling open during sleep, encouraging nasal breathing and preventing snoring, whereas the mouthpiece helps you to bring your lower jaw forward slightly and by doing so it opens the airway.

The results for both are instantaneous and they are easily worn. Chinstraps essentially work the same way as a dental mouthpiece in that they position the jaw slightly forward in order to keep the airway more open but do so whilst closing the open mouth at the same time. Another benefit to the snorer is that it vastly reduces the problem of having a dry mouth due to open-mouthed snoring, which is a common problem for the snorer and most uncomfortable as a side effect.

One problem – two alternative solutions – but one happy outcome using whichever item is chosen.

By John Redfern