Statins May Reduce Heart Risks Linked to Sleep Apnea: Study

Sleep apnea is a condition suffered by millions across the globe. It is characterized by periods of apnea, or failure to breath, as well as loud, roof-shaking snoring. Surprisingly, the individual suffering from sleep apnea may not realize he or she suffers from it, and it is often a spouse or partner who sounds the alarm.

Sleep apnea is not just a nuisance. It can contribute to heart failure, heart attacks, obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and many other maladies. And most people with sleep apnea are chronically fatigued.

A recent study from Columbia University found that statin drugs (generally used to treat high cholesterol) might have the potential to improve the chronic inflammation of the blood vessels that is typically linked to sleep apnea. These drugs are known to lower cholesterol as well as to reduce inflammation in the heart arteries.

Much more research is needed before statins can be considered a treatment for sleep apnea, but the possibility is intriguing.

As I told reporter Tara Haelle:

“This is basic science research, not a clinical study. So we don’t know specifically what degree of reduction in heart risk statins might provide for sleep apnea patients without other risk factors. But it does provide a great launching point for new patient-centered studies on the topic.

 And although statins don’t treat sleep apnea, they may help reduce the dangerous consequences sleep apnea can have on the heart.”
To read more, click on the link to the article in US News and World Report.

Source: Statins May Reduce Heart Risks Linked to Sleep Apnea: Study | Health | US News

Sleep Well for Heart Health

Insomnia and poor quality sleep are common complaints I hear from my patients every day. We all know how rotten a lost night of sleep can make us feel.  But did you know that losing sleep can affect your heart health?

A recent study of people with congestive heart failure found that those who are chronically sleep deprived are more likely to require re-hospitalization. Congestive heart failure is a condition in which the heart is either too weak or too stiff to efficiently pump blood, resulting in fluid buildup in the lungs and throughout the body.

As I told reported Katti Gray, “lack of sleep can contribute to diastolic dysfunction (stiffness of the heart muscle) as well as higher blood pressure, both of which can aggravate heart failure. Sleep apnea is strongly linked to heart failure as well. And as the researchers point out, poor sleep can lead to other behaviors–such as overeating and a sedentary lifestyle–that are harmful to the heart.

For many years, the medical establishment and others considered sleep as something of an indulgence, nice to have, but something that could be put off for another day.” We now know without a doubt that sleep is a necessity, not a luxury.

To read more about the study, click on the link to

Sleeplessness Tied to Heart Health | dailyRx.

Add Sleep to Your Healthy Habit Checklist

Exercise, a healthy diet, alcohol in moderation, and avoiding tobacco are all healthy lifestyle choices that have been linked to a lower risk for heart disease. Now a study from  the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment in the Netherlands finds that healthy sleep habits should also be added to that checklist. According to the researchers, people getting sufficient sleep (at least 7 hours nightly)  in addition to following those four other healthy habits enjoy a 65 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease when compared to those meeting one or none of the healthy behaviors. Learn how living by the old adage “you can sleep when you’re dead” can actually hasten your death in this article from DailyRx.

Add Sleep to Your Healthy Habit Checklist | dailyRx.

Caffeine and the Long Distance Driver

In years past, coffee and tea were thought of as vices. While not quite shameful, and certainly not on par with smoking and heavy drinking, caffeine consumption was something that we doctors were sure would eventually lead to dire consequences. Never mind that coffee, tea, and chocolate have been integral to cultures around the world for millenia. Something that makes you feel so good must surely be bad for you.

The good news is that we were wrong.  And when it comes to coffee and tea, we were seriously wrong. In fact, both are potent sources of heart healthy antioxidants. For more about some of the latest research, take a look at the piece I wrote for  Of course, we can’t generalize to other caffeinated products such as sodas and energy drinks. While they may be loaded with caffeine, they have little if any of the antioxidants found in coffee and tea, and are often saturated with sugar.

The latest study on caffeine and health (published in the March 19, 2013 edition of the British Medical Journal) takes a somewhat different tack. Australian researchers investigated the caffeine habits of long-distance truckers and found that those who regularly drank caffeinated beverages had a 63% lower likelihood of crashing compared to those who never used caffeine. The study was not designed to look at cigarette smoking, but heavy smokers did appear to have a higher rate of crashes, despite the stimulant effects of nicotine.

If you’re driving long distances, you’re better off getting plenty of rest and exercise than relying on caffeine to keep you awake. However, it’s reassuring and potentially life saving to know that a coffee buzz is a safe and relatively effective way to help you stay awake and alert.