Snoring and Heart disease: Understanding the Connection

Snoring, often seen as a mere annoyance, might not seem to have any significant health consequences. In contrast, heart disease is a life-threatening condition with a high mortality rate. However, research shows that snoring and heart disease are closely linked.

heart disease and snoring

Various studies conducted by the National Sleep Foundation indicate that about 90 million people in the United States snore, a condition characterized by snorting or grunting sounds during sleep. Snoring may become more dangerous as you age and can contribute to the development of heart disease. Understanding the relationship between snoring and heart disease requires examining how snoring affects the body and the risk factors associated with it.

The Link Between Snoring and Heart Disease

While sleep apnea is not a direct cause of heart disease, it is closely associated with the development of hypertension or high blood pressure. Many people with sleep apnea also have co-existing health conditions, making it difficult to establish a direct link between sleep apnea and heart disease. However, studies have shown that treating sleep apnea can help reduce blood pressure in individuals with both conditions, suggesting a possible connection between hypertension and sleep apnea. Untreated hypertension can eventually lead to heart disease and stroke.

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is also linked to obesity, a risk factor for heart disease. Obesity increases the risk of developing sleep apnea, while sleep deprivation caused by sleep apnea can contribute to weight gain over time. Excess weight gain leads to fat accumulation around the neck area, which puts pressure on the throat muscles responsible for keeping the airway open. This added pressure causes the muscles to relax too much, worsening snoring and sleep apnea.

To further understand the relationship between snoring and heart disease, it’s important to consider human physiology. The nose and mouth are the body’s primary sources of oxygen, which is absorbed into the blood and distributed throughout the body. Snoring occurs when the upper airways become obstructed at the start of a respiratory cycle, affecting the rest of the process. Oxygen deprivation can force the heart to narrow blood vessels to increase blood flow and obtain more oxygen. This increased pressure on the vessels can lead to chronic hypertension or even a heart attack.

Does Snoring Cause Heart Attacks?

Snoring can serve as a warning sign that something is amiss in your body. It may be an indication of heart disease, hypertension, stroke, heart attack, diabetes, obesity, or other serious health issues. Lack of oxygen intake can cause blood vessels to narrow, potentially obstructing blood flow to the heart. This obstruction can lead to blood clots, which, if dislodged, can travel to the heart, block a blood vessel, and cause a heart attack or even death.

Several factors increase the risk of snoring, sleep apnea, and consequently, heart disease. These include obesity, having a thicker neck or narrow throat, enlarged tonsils or adenoids, naturally narrower air passages (more common in men), old age, and a family history of sleep apnea, smoking, or alcohol consumption.

Treating Snoring to Prevent Heart Disease

Seeking treatment for snoring, especially when it may be indicative of sleep apnea, is crucial in reducing the risk of heart disease. Your doctor will recommend the appropriate treatment based on the severity of your snoring. For mild snoring, simple lifestyle changes may be all that’s needed. These include:

  • Engaging in regular physical activity,
  • Practicing good sleep hygiene,
  • Avoiding alcohol consumption close to bedtime,
  • Avoiding caffeine before bed, and more.

For more severe cases of snoring and sleep apnea, therapies like continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) can be helpful. CPAP therapy involves a machine that delivers constant air pressure through a mask into the nose or mouth, keeping the airway open during sleep. The use of anti-snoring devices is also a recommended option for treating snoring.


Does snoring directly cause heart disease? Medical experts do not have a definitive answer to this question. However, it is clear that snoring and heart problems are linked. Snoring is not always a symptom of heart issues, nor is it the direct cause of heart problems. Heart disorders often coexist with other health conditions, making it challenging to determine the exact connections between these health issues.

Obstructed breathing can negatively impact your health in numerous ways. If you are concerned that your snoring could lead to heart disease, monitor your breathing patterns during sleep and seek professional medical help. By addressing your snoring and any underlying sleep disorders, you can significantly reduce your risk of developing heart disease and improve your overall health.