‘Undiagnosed sleep problems result in heart diseases’

"With only about 25 per cent patients of Peripheral Arterial Disease undergoing treatment, it is a disease that largely goes undiagnosed and untreated.

Peripheral Arterial Disease usually occurs when leg arteries become narrowed or blocked by plaque, a condition that raises the risk of heart attack, stroke, leg amputation and death."

This was an observation by a doctor at a press conference organised at the Chandigarh Press Club on Friday aimed to spread awareness about various sleep disorders.

Another common disorder that was highlighted was obesity hypoventilation syndrome (also known as Pickwickian syndrome).

It is a condition in which overweight people fail to breathe rapidly enough or deeply enough, resulting in low blood oxygen levels and high blood carbon dioxide levels.

Many people with the condition also frequently stop breathing altogether for short periods of time during sleep (obstructive sleep apnea), resulting in many partial awakenings during the night, which leads to continual sleepiness during the day.

The disease puts strain on the heart, which eventually may lead to the symptoms of heart failure, such as swelling in the legs. 

The most effective treatment is weight loss, but it is often possible to relieve the symptoms by nocturnal ventilation with positive airway pressure or related methods.

"Since untreated sleep problems form a new risk factor for heart and peripheral vascular diseases, early identification of such problems decreases the risk of heart and vascular diseases," said Dr S K Gupta of the Right Chest Clinic and Sleep Lab.

Dr Kanwaljit Singh Gill, cardiologist from Lancaster, said, "Undiagnosed sleep problems result in heart and vascular diseases. This can be easily treated if primary care physicians are informed about the possible role of risk factors which include a sedentary lifestyle, obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes. Sleep problems have been identified as a 'newly identified risk factor' for heart problem worldwide."

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