According to recent research, sleep apnea's risks for pregnant women are dire, which makes it critical that we identify risk factors in pregnant women and get them tested for sleep apnea so they will know and can get appropriate treatment.
Now a new study shows us that some symptoms are associated with very high sleep apnea risks: half of women with high blood pressure who snore unknowingly have sleep apnea, according to research out of the University of Michigan. And about a quarter of those who have high blood pressure but don’t snore also have sleep apnea.
Hypertension and Sleep Apnea Risks
According to this study, published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, hypertension is perhaps the most important marker of sleep apnea because it is associated with such high risk of the disease, although snoring remains an important marker, too. Habitual snoring–at least three nights a week–is normally considered the most important marker of sleep apnea. It tends to increase during pregnancy, and about a third of women are chronic snorers by the third trimester.
The lead researcher on the study noted that, “Prompt recognition, evaluation, and management will not only improve health benefits for both moms and babies but may also help cut the high healthcare expenses of operative deliveries, taking care of babies who are admitted to the NICU and other associated health risks.” With associated risks such as preeclampsia, eclampsia, maternal death, cardiomyopathy, and pulmonary embolism, it certainly seems likely that sleep apnea treatment will result in reduced healthcare costs.
You Can Develop Sleep Apnea
Another important takeaway of this study is that sleep apnea is a condition that for the vast majority of us isn’t genetic. It’s something that we can develop at any time, often related to other changes in life condition, such as obesity, health status, medications, and more. Even if you have been tested in the past and have been found to not have sleep apnea, it’s important to get tested again if your health or other conditions change. In particular, if your snoring or daytime sleepiness worsens, you gain weight, or receive a diagnosis of high blood pressure, you should be evaluated for sleep apnea again.
If you think you may have sleep apnea, we can refer you to a sleep physician for testing. Please call 402-493-4175 for advice from Dr. Roger Roubal, sleep dentist at the Advanced Dental Sleep Treatment Center in Omaha.