High blood pressure: The way you sleep could be increasing your hypertension risk

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High blood pressure or hypertension is one of the leading causes of mortality around the world, contributing to 20 percent of all deaths, according to the Lancet’s Global Burden of Disease report. Those seeking to lower their readings are encouraged to revise their lifestyle habits which could include the way they sleep.

People with sleep apnoea have higher odds of getting high blood pressure and other heart problems, according to WebMD.

When a person’s breathing is repeatedly interrupted while they’re sleeping, their nervous system releases chemicals that raise your blood pressure.

Another factor is less oxygen which occurs which in turn damages blood vessel walls making it more difficult for the body to regulate your blood pressure down the road.

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Sleep apnoea is a sleep disorder that causes numerous lapses in breathing during sleep.

There are two types of sleep apnoea namely obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) and central sleep apnoea (CSA).

“OSA is marked by episodes of airway collapse, which blocks airflow into the lungs and often causes snoring and gasping during sleep,” said the Sleep Foundation.

“In CSA, breathing lapses occur because of a lack of communication between the brain and the muscles involved in breathing.

“Of the two types of sleep apnoea, only OSA is linked to high blood pressure.”

In a study published in Hypertension, sleep apnoea and hypertension link were further observed.

The study noted: “One of the characteristics of OSA is a non-dipping nocturnal blood pressure profile.

“Even in the absence of daytime hypertension, sleep apnoea patients may not exhibit the normal nocturnal dip in blood pressure during sleep because of apnoea-induced sympathetic activation.

“Higher nocturnal blood pressure, independent of daytime hypertension, may play a significant role in the development of cardiovascular complications.

“Thus, even in normotensive patients, a nocturnal non dipping blood pressure profile may suggest increased cardiovascular risk.”

The study concluded that further studies are needed to establish the prognostic role of elevated nocturnal blood pressures in sleep apnoea.

The seventh report of the Joint National Committee identified OSA as an important identifiable cause of hypertension.

As many as half of all patients with sleep apnoea may have underlying hypertension, and many patients with hypertension, particularly resistant hypertension, may have OSA, the research found.

It was also found an interaction between OSA severity and resistance to antihypertensive medications was present.

Elevated nocturnal blood pressure and reduced blood pressure “dipping” during sleep also suggest a higher likelihood of underlying sleep apnoea, even in normotensive patients.

Whether hypertension contributes to OSA remains unknown.

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