Risks of Sleep Apnea for Angioplasty Patients

by Amy Norton Health Writer

People who have trouble breathing at night may face heightened risks of stroke, heart failure, or death after having emergency angioplasty.

A number of studies have linked sleep apnea, which causes repeated pauses in breathing overnight, to increased risks of heart complications because it can take a toll on the cardiovascular system.

Now a new study suggests that sleep apnea also raises the risks of cardiovascular trouble in the years after an angioplasty procedure.

The findings, published online in June 2016 in the Journal of the American Heart Association, are based on 257 patients who had angioplasty to treat a heart attack or unstable angina.

Over the next five years, 21 percent of patients with sleep apnea died or suffered a stroke or heart complication (most often heart failure), compared with about 8 percent of patients without sleep apnea.

The study does not prove that treating sleep apnea will curb those risks. But there is evidence that heart disease patients with well-controlled sleep apnea fare better than those whose symptoms go untreated.

Bottom line

If you suspect you have sleep apnea, talk to your doctor. Symptoms include chronic, loud snoring, or daytime sleepiness, but some people have none.

There are many good reasons to treat sleep apnea. The benefits include greater alertness and less sleepiness during the day, as well as improved concentration and memory.

Studies show that treating the disorder can also help lower blood pressure and may help control abnormal heartbeats and other cardiovascular consequences of sleep apnea.

Amy Norton
Meet Our Writer
Amy Norton

Amy Norton has been a medical journalist since 1999. She was a staff writer and editor for Physician's Weekly and Reuters Health, and has written on health and medicine for MSNBC, The Scientist, Prevention and HealthDay. When she's not writing, she is teaching yoga.