The Link between Hypertension and Obstructive Sleep Apnoea

wine glassHypertension can increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases, including coronary heart disease (CHD), congestive heart failure (CHF), ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke, renal failure, and peripheral arterial disease. Therefore hypertension needs to be diagnosed and treated immediately.

There are various causes of hypertension. It may be primary, or as a result of environmental or genetic causes, or it may be secondary, or due to renal, vascular, and endocrine causes. Recently, some studies suggest that sleep apnoea may cause hypertension.

So how can sleep apnoea actually cause hypertension?

Obstructive sleep apnoea is defined as a breathing disorder which is marked by at least 10 apneic and hypopenic episodes per sleep hour, which leads to excessive daytime sleepiness. Multiple studies have shown OSA to be an independent risk factor for the development of essential hypertension, even after adjusting for age, gender, and degree of obesity. It is said that about half of individuals with hypertension have OSA, and approximately half with OSA have hypertension. Hypertension may be caused by frequent apneic or hypopneic episodes that end with arousals associated with marked spikes in BP that last for several seconds.

Thus patients who have sleep apnoea should be monitored for hypertension and vice versa. It is said that once obstructive sleep apnoea is treated in hypertensive patients, blood pressure improves. Treatment for sleep apnoea can also improve symptoms, sleepiness, driving, cognition, mood, and quality of life. Sleep apnoea is improved through lifestyle changes such as weight loss and sometimes reduction of alcohol consumption. Alcohol not only increases caloric intake but also decreases upper-airway dilating muscle tone, thus predisposing to obstructed breathing. Sedative drugs, which also affect airway tone, should also be carefully withdrawn.

The best treatment for sleep apnoea is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), which works by blowing the airway open during sleep. Another option is using a mandibular repositioning splint which works by holding the lower jaw and the tongue forward, thereby widening the pharyngeal airway.

Image courtesy of Stoonn/

Somnowell Inventor - Visiting Professor Simon Ash FDS MSc MOrth BDS

Prof. Ash is the inventor of the highly successful SOMNOWELL Chrome device for snoring and sleep apnoea.

The Somnowell Chrome is made to exacting standards in the Somnowell laboratory under the supervision of Visiting Professor Simon Ash. Prof. Ash and his master technicians create each Somnowell Chrome device using their wealth of experience and expertise.

Prof. Ash works at the forefront of his profession. He is a Consultant and Specialist Orthodontist with over 30 years clinical experience, with a special interest in sleep related breathing disorders, TMJD, and bruxism. He currently works in Harley Street London and two private hospitals in London as part of a multi-disciplinary team managing snoring and sleep apnoea, and is Visiting Professor of Orthodontics at the BPP University.