Don’t ignore this risk factor.

Heart disease has been the leading cause of death in the U.S. for a century, but a Harris Poll for the American Heart Association found that 51% of Americans are unaware of this fact.

“Heart disease can be significantly reduced if we prevent risk factors,” says Dr. Sharan Sharma, a cardiologist with Intermountain Health.

One key prevention method is getting enough sleep. However, a common sleep issue—snoring—might signal a higher risk for heart disease.

Dr. Sharma explains that snoring can be a sign of sleep apnea, which is linked to heart diseases like atrial fibrillation and hypertension.

A 2024 study in Nature found regular snoring increases the risk of high blood pressure. Dr. Sanjay Rajagopalan from Case Western Reserve University notes that sleep apnea involves stopping breathing for at least 10 seconds, raising stress hormones that can harm the heart.

This can lead to higher blood pressure and increased risk of heart attacks.

Snoring can also cause daytime drowsiness and difficulty concentrating. Not all snoring indicates heart disease, but if it’s accompanied by symptoms like breathing pauses during sleep, daytime sleepiness, or morning headaches, it might be worth getting checked out. Dr. Sharma suggests a sleep study to determine the cause.

Reducing sleep apnea risk involves regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, quitting smoking, and limiting alcohol. For those with sleep apnea, treatment with a CPAP mask is available.

Other heart disease signs include an irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath, unusual fatigue, or swelling in the legs. Dr. Leonard Pianko advises seeing a cardiologist if you have a family history of heart disease or experience symptoms.

For more information, Parade is the source of this report.

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