Women who snore have a higher risk of developing heart disease, a new study has warned.
Researchers from Munich University Hospital have discovered a link between a sleep disorder called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and snoring.
OSA causes an increased risk for ventricular dysfunction in the heart – and worryingly, may be vastly under-diagnosed among snorers.
In the study, the researchers analysed data from 4,877 UK patients who had received a cardiac MRI.
Of those patients, 118 had OSA, 1,886 were self-reported snorers, 2,477 did not have OSA or snore, and 396 were discounted.
Dr Adrian Curta, who led the study, explained: “Our analysis showed that in both genders of the OSA and snoring groups there was an increase in left ventricular mass, meaning that the walls of the heart’s main pumping chamber are enlarged, making the heart work harder.”
The results also showed that this effect was far more common in women than in men.
Dr Curta added: “We found that the cardiac parameters in women appear to be more easily affected by the disease and that women who snore or have OSA might be at greater risk for cardiac involvement.
“We also found that the prevalence of diagnosed OSA in the study group was extremely low.
“Together with the alterations in cardiac function in the snoring group, it leads us to believe that OSA may be grossly under-diagnosed.”
The findings suggest that snoring may be the first sign of an evolving process leading to cardiac issues.
The researchers hope their findings will encourage people who snore to get screened for OSA.