When considering the serious health consequences of not being able to breathe properly in sleep, we normally focus on sleep apnea. That’s because the severity of risk associated with sleep apnea is very high. It’s linked to mental and mood disorders, metabolic disorders, and cardiovascular problems.

But even simple snoring has been linked to serious health risks. And now a new study has elaborated on these risks, showing that snoring is associated with serious damage to the carotid arteries.

medical professional checking the pulse of a female patient with red fingernail polish

Looking at Arteries with MRI

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is commonly used to look at a person’s atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is the deposition of plaque in arteries and other related health conditions commonly called the “hardening” of arteries.

MRI can look at the plaques in the arteries, not only identifying that they’re present. It also allows for doctors to look at the characteristics and features of arterial plaque to show the different forms of plaque and identify which ones are most likely to put a person in danger.

In this new study, researchers used the power of this tool to show that people who snore are more likely to experience damaging complications.

Dangerous Features Linked to Snoring

For this study, researchers at a hospital surveyed 133 people who had undergone an MRI to look at their atherosclerosis. These people were sent a survey that asked if they were a snorer. They got 61 responses, and of these respondents, 32 reported that they snored. Researchers then looked at how often these snorers and non-snorers had certain dangerous features in the atherosclerosis of their carotid arteries.

They found that snorers were 4.4 times more likely to experience a thin/ruptured fibrous cap and 8.2 times more likely to experience intraplaque hemorrhage than nonsnorers.

The fibrous cap of arterial plaque is caused by changes that take place in the inner layer of the blood vessel where plaque attaches. When the fibrous cap thins or ruptures, it makes the plaque more likely to break off, which can lead to thrombosis or ischemic stroke.

Intraplaque hemorrhage (IPH) is also considered a warning sign of potential stroke. In IPH, tiny blood vessels that have grown into the arterial plaque burst, causing bleeding inside the plaque. This can break the plaque up from within, making it more likely to come off and cause an ischemic stroke.

Even Simple Snoring Should Be Treated

This study reminds us that even simple snoring can be dangerous. The vibrations created by snoring can damage blood vessels like the carotid arteries, making ischemic stroke much more likely.

Fortunately, there are good treatments available for snoring. If you’re looking for effective snoring treatment in Omaha, please call (402) 493-4175 today for an appointment with a sleep dentist at The Advanced Dental Sleep Treatment Center.