What is the relationship between heavy snoring and health risks?

Heavy snoring may be more than just a nightly nuisance. A 2008 study in the journal Sleep found that heavy snorers have a 34 percent higher risk of heart attack, a 40 percent increased risk of high blood pressure and a 67 percent increased risk of stroke than non-snorers. The Hungarian researchers involved in the study surveyed nearly 13,000 people—of which a third of the men and a fifth of the women reported that they snore loudly—and found a significant correlation between loud snoring and heart disease. The link between the two held true even after adjustments were made for body mass index and alcohol consumption, both of which can aggravate snoring.

The sound of snoring is caused by breath vibrating through partially obstructed throat and nasal passageways. While the normal aging process can contribute to sagging throat muscles, the biggest contributor of all is excess weight. In fact, 60 to 90 percent of adults with obstructive sleep apnea are overweight: Fat compresses their air passages and weakens their upper-airway muscles. Not only can weight problems worsen snoring, but snoring can also hamper efforts to control your weight. By interrupting your sleep, it can deprive you of much-needed shut-eye, raising levels of cortisol (linked to increased abdominal fat), lowering levels of appetite-regulating leptin and sapping your energy for exercise. Fortunately, you can stop the vicious cycle of dwindling sleep and rising weight by exercising more and changing your diet.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.