Understanding the Link Between Sleep and Blood Pressure

Understanding the Link Between Sleep and Blood Pressure

As recently as 2020, hypertension is still a common, dangerous, and preventable condition, affecting about 116 million adults in America (about half of the population) and in one year led to the deaths of over 600,000 people. Only about one in four people have the illness under control while 45% of people don’t have it under control. 

Hypertension has a number of different causes, but you may not be aware that problems with sleeping can also contribute to your struggles with blood pressure. To better understand how this works, let’s examine the common causes of blood pressure problems, how sleeping problems can affect your risk of it, and what can be done to prevent or treat it.

If you live in the Little River, South Carolina area and you have problems stemming from hypertension or other chronic disorders, Dr. Rogers Walker and his team at Walker Urgent and Family Care can help.

Common causes of blood pressure problems

The complicated plumbing of your circulatory system is responsible for carrying important proteins and many other vital chemicals throughout your body, and changes in blood pressure can cause the system to fail, leading to hypertension, hypotension (low blood pressure), and other related complications. Here are some common factors that affect your blood pressure:

How sleep can affect blood pressure

Breathing problems can affect your blood pressure, and sleep apnea is a disorder that affects how you breathe as you sleep. This condition comes in a few different types, but obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the type that can affect your blood pressure by straining the heart. OSA causes your airway to collapse and briefly stop while sleeping, and this causes blood pressure spikes when you start breathing again. This causes your sympathetic nervous system to activate repeatedly, which stresses it and leads to chronic issues with higher blood pressure levels. 

Issues commonly associated with diabetes can also complicate matters, as OSA is also more common in obese people (who are also at a higher risk of diabetes), and this sleep disorder can also be a cause of insulin resistance, which is directly connected to diabetes.

Prevention and treatment

If you have obstructive sleep apnea, treating it can also help to manage your blood pressure. Lifestyle changes you can make to help include losing weight, engaging in regular exercise, and improving your diet. All of those are generally good habits for improving blood pressure, but can also help with OSA.

OSA treatments that can help with blood pressure include the use of a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device. This device helps to keep your airway from collapsing while sleeping by pumping air into the lungs as you sleep. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to help with OSA, which can help reduce blood pressure.

The connection between sleep disorders and blood pressure problems is complicated, but getting both under control will make a difference to your long-term health. If you’re dealing with blood pressure problems, make an appointment with Dr. Walker and Walker Urgent and Family Care today.

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