Do You Have High Blood Pressure Or Sleep Apnea?
July 9, 2013 by Bob Livingston
I suspect that many of the millions of people who are faithfully taking high blood pressure medicine donâ€™t really have high blood pressure. They may instead have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
If you snore or lose sleep and seem to wake up tired, you may have OSA. This can lead to a host of health problems such as high blood pressure, acid reflux, frequent nighttime urination, memory loss, stroke, depression, diabetes or even heart attack.
I used to wake up with very high blood pressure and had to hurriedly take blood pressure medicine. One day, a cardiologist suggested that I be tested for sleep apnea. I had already been tested and had a CPAP machine that I used occasionally.
Well, the lights came on. I realized that I did not awaken with high blood pressure as long as I used the machine by wearing my mask each night. I rested much better, four to five hours at a time, and didnâ€™t wake up for frequent nighttime urination.
Follow-up reading suggested that a chin strap worn while sleeping would stop the mouth from falling open, stop the snoring and possibly take the place of the CPAP machine. The chin strap prevents the jaw, throat and tongue muscles from relaxing by holding the mouth closed while sleeping; therefore, there is no obstruction of the airway passage.
I have tried a chin strap while napping and found it very helpful. However, I am not quite ready to exchange my CPAP machine for a chin strap. The CPAP machine provides forced air at the nose. I am at least suspicious that the simple chin strap may be a low-cost substitute for the CPAP machine.
The whole idea here is that if you can stop the snoring by holding your mouth shut with a chin strap, you can stop or alleviate OSA. I am not prepared to tell you this is true, but I suspect it.
A recent case study published by Eastern Virginia Medical Schoolâ€™s Division of Sleep Medicine in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine concludes that wearing a simple chin strap while you sleep can be an effective treatment for OSA.
Snoring reduction may help increase oxygen levels, improve REM (deep) sleep, diminish daytime fatigue and lower blood pressure.