Can Sleep Apnea be a reason for High Blood Pressure?


The effort your heart has to make to push the blood through your arteries is known as blood pressure. Starting at the age of 20, your healthcare provider will recommend you to have blood pressure screening at regular intervals or once every year.

Your blood pressure rises with each heartbeat and between those heartbeats, it falls when the heart relaxes. While Blood pressure can change from, minute to minute, it should normally be less than 120/80mm Hg.

If your blood pressure reading is higher than the normal, your doctor may take several more readings before diagnosing you with high blood pressure.

Types of High Blood Pressure

  • Primary, in which no particular cause is known
  • Secondary high blood pressure, which occurs due to other medical conditions or medications

What are the possible reasons for high blood pressure?

In the majority of times, no clear cause can be identified, making Primary high blood pressure more prevalent.

High Blood pressure, in many cases, has its roots with the genes we have got from our parents. In simple words, high blood pressure is more common in families where other members have this condition. 

Other conditions that can affect the incidence of high blood pressure are:

  • Taking a high sodium diet
  • Drinking alcohol more often
  • Exercising too little
  • Being overweight

There are other secondary reasons for high blood pressure, which are not as important as the factors listed above, but still, they are felt to be related to high blood pressure.

  • Number of kidney diseases may cause high blood pressure
  • An obstruction to the arteries to the kidneys that can be caused due to high cholesterol (atherosclerosis) or from any congenital disorder. It is the situation when the kidney which is blocked releases chemicals causing your blood pressure go high. The kidney will produce enough of blood pressure to satisfy itself, but the rest of the body sees it as very high pressure.
  • Cushing syndrome can also be one of the signs of high blood pressure. It is caused by the excess of production of “glucocorticoids” steroids highly responsible for regulating the metabolism of glucose and other substances.
  • Pregnancy may be the cause, especially in the case of pre-eclampsia.
  • Sleep apnea, known to be a cause for loud snoring and day time sleepiness, has been linked with hypertension, however; it can be improved with the treatment of sleep apnea.
  • Side-effects from certain supplements and medications could also be one of the symptoms of high blood pressure.

Symptoms of High Blood Pressure

Most people with the problem of high blood pressure do not show any symptoms of high blood pressure. This is the reason health providers recommend regular checkup of blood pressure. Regular checkups are important for:

  • Men with age over 45 and women with age over 55
  • Those who are over weight
  • Anyone who recently had a stroke, a heart attack or have diabetes or raised cholesterol
  • Those who smoke or consume alcohol
  • Pregnant women or those consuming contraceptive pills

How to control High Blood Pressure?

  • First and foremost step you should take to keep the symptoms of high blood pressure at bay is by giving a visit to your doctor after every 6 to 12 months or in case your blood pressure levels are not well controlled, your doctor would like to see you more frequently.
  • Quickly adopt the lifestyle changes (also discussed above) to at least control the early signs of high blood pressure.
  • If your blood pressure is uncontrollable, despite certain medications, get yourself checked for sleep apnea. Make an appointment with a sleep physician and he/she may ask you to go for a polysomnography test to diagnose the sleep disorder. If it comes out to be positive, he will recommend you CPAP treatment to bring down your blood pressure.

High blood pressure, if not treated on time can lead to graver health consequences such as heart problems, strokes etc. It would be wise to get yourself checked for obstructive sleep apnea and if even after implementing few lifestyle changes and medications, there is no improvement, the sleep physician you consult will make you undergo polysomnography. If your sleep apnea will be diagnosed as a severe one, he/she would ask you to take CPAP treatment for sleep apnea.  

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