The common assumption is that only middle-aged men are at risk for sleep apnea. The problem with common assumptions is not just that they’re wrong, but that their wrongness puts people at risk. The truth is that sleep apnea can affect everyone–men, women, and even children. And most people don’t know they’re at risk or what the risks of sleep apnea might be.
On the other hand, people do understand that high blood pressure is a dangerous condition. And if you were to tell them they’re at risk for high blood pressure, they’ll understand why that’s a problem. Especially if you tell them that kids may be at risk, too.
Sleep Apnea and Hypertension: Common Risks
This is where our infographic comes in. People understand that high blood pressure has risks. We want to use that to communicate with people about the risks of sleep apnea. Because all the risks of high blood pressure are also risks related to sleep apnea.
One of the things that makes high blood pressure so dangerous is that our blood flows to every part of the body. It touches everything, and therefore almost every system in the body has the potential to be damaged by high blood pressure.
In the same way, sleep apnea has the potential to damage every part of the body. Sleep is the body’s vital restorative mechanism. When the body can’t get sleep, it can’t be restored. This leads to serious effects for virtually every system in the body.
Some of the most serious impacts of high blood pressure and sleep apnea are directed at your body’s core systems. Your heart is the literal and metaphorical center of your body’s function, and it’s the organ that is most impacted by high blood pressure. Your heart can be overworked and damaged by high blood pressure, resulting in heart pain and heart failure.
High blood pressure can also damage your body’s most important blood filters: the kidneys. The force of high blood pressure can damage the filtration system, impairing their function or leading to kidney failure.
Your brain is also at risk from hypertension because hypertension increases your risk of stroke. High blood pressure can increase your risk of both ischemic and hemorrhagic strokes.
Senses, Moods, and Lifestyle
The impacts of high blood pressure also affect other systems you might consider “superficial.” It can damage your vision, potentially leading to blindness through retinopathy or glaucoma.
Medications for high blood pressure can also impact your mood, leading to depression and anxiety.
And your mood can be further impacted by sexual dysfunction and a loss of libido.
Watch Out for These Deadly Dangers
Because everyone is aware of the dangers of high blood pressure, you’re probably already on the lookout for it. And even if you’re not, your doctor probably is, since they typically take your blood pressure at every doctor’s visit.
On the other hand, you’re probably not on the lookout for sleep apnea. But now that you know about the dangers, you might want to start. So what do you look out for?
Loud snoring is one of the most visible (well, audible) warning signs. If you’re a loud snorer, your risk of sleep apnea is high. You should also be concerned if you experience sleepiness during the day, wake up with headaches, experience dry mouth, or have symptoms of depression or another mood disorder.
Hypertension is another warning sign for sleep apnea. Sleep apnea can cause high blood pressure or make it harder to treat. The good news is that treating sleep apnea can sometimes treat high blood pressure, too. And that’s the kind of overlap we can get behind!