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Heart of living
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Heart of living

This issue features the heart — the link between teeth and heart, egg yolk and cholesterol levels, cardiac complications and diabetes and finally, adequate sleep and how it keeps the heart ticking

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Teething troubles for the heart

Ignoring oral health could not just lead to bad breath but also could result in serious health complications for the heart and even compromise the functioning of the coronary arteries.

Dentists and cardiologists warn that poor oral hygiene could lead to infectious endocarditis, a bacterial infection of the lining of the heart valve. Experts opine that oral hygiene is as important as a healthy diet and workouts when it comes to matters of the heart.

There is a direct link between dental hygiene and cardiac health. Ignoring health could not just lead to bad breath but also could result in serious health complications for the heart and even compromise the functioning of the coronary arteries. Dentists and cardiologists warn that bad oral hygiene can not only damage your teeth and gums but can also cause a bacterial infection called infective endocarditis which leads to inflamed arteries and infection of the heart valve which if left untreated could have health complications. Experts opine that oral hygiene is as important as a healthy diet and workouts when it comes to matters of the heart.

Dr Neeraj Bhalla, senior director, cardiology, BLK-Max Super Specialty Hospital, New Delhi, reckons there is an association between bad oral hygiene and an increased incidence of cardiac conditions such as heart attack or acute cardiac syndrome (when the blood flow to the heart reduces suddenly).

A research article published in the science journal, Circulation, examines a large, prospective study which demonstrates a strong association between some indexes of oral hygiene and gingival disease and the incidence of bacteremia from Infective Endocarditis-related (IE) species. IE is a bacterial infection of the heart valve lining. It says that poor oral hygiene results in gingivitis, which often leads to periodontitis, and it is likely that these two periodontal diseases are associated with community-acquired IE. Current evidence suggests that poor oral hygiene and periodontal diseases and not dental office procedure (protective dental procedures and protocols) are likely to be responsible for the vast majority of cases of IE that originate in the mouth.

Dr Divya Marina Fernandes, consultant, heart failure specialist and interventional cardiologist, Aster RV Hospital, throws light on infective endocarditis. “It occurs when bacteria or other germs enter the bloodstream and travel to a person’s heart. These germs then stick to the damaged heart valves or tissues and cause infection and inflammation,” she explains.

study published in StarPearls says that infectious endocarditis is the inflammation of the endocardium and is primarily a disease caused by bacteria and has a wide array of manifestations. Without early identification and treatment, a myriad of intracardiac and far-reaching extracardiac complications can develop. Therefore, careful evaluation, including a thorough history and physical exam, can help diagnose cases and guide management, limiting mortality and morbidity.

“Poor oral hygiene, minor gum injury caused by tooth brushing and sometimes dental procedures, are some of the main causes leading to infectious endocarditis,” says Fernandes. Experts suggest that one should be alert and consult a physician if he/she is experiencing pain in chewing and swallowing, has swollen or bleeding gums and are also experiencing symptoms like fever, pain in the cheekbone, chills, sore throat, nasal congestion, headache and muscle pain.

Dr Bhalla adds that IE may be due to chronic or acute inflammation in the oral cavity due to conditions such as pyorrhoea, gingivitis or poor gum health leading to a chronic inflammatory state which affects atherosclerotic processes (when arteries thicken and harden because of plaque) and can cause inflammation in the arteries leading to a heart attack.

Another problem is poor oral health in patients who have deformed or prosthetic cardiac valves (artificial cardiac valves). “Especially if any instrumentation such as any extraction or any surgery is done of the teeth, this causes bacteremia, in which a flood of bacteria enter the bloodstream and circulate because of the injury caused by the instrumentation,” explains Dr Bhalla.

Dr Neetu Kamra, head dental and maxillofacial surgery, BLK-Max Super Specialty Hospital, New Delhi, explains that periodontitis is a serious gum infection that not only damages gums but can destroy the jawbone as well.

A word of caution

Dr Bhalla says that prior to undergoing valve surgery, people are always advised to visit a dentist and extract any rotting teeth to pre-empt or prevent the occurrence of infective endocarditis. “Those patients who have an infective heart valve are always advised to take a shot of antibiotics before they undergo any dental procedure or any other procedure which has the potential to let loose a stream of bacteria in the blood,” explains Dr Bhalla.

This means that any infected area that is being operated on is given a prior dose of antibiotics. A couple of doses of antibiotics are also given after the procedure to prevent any infection from settling on these valves.

People at risk

According to Dr Karma, almost everyone with poor oral hygiene is at risk of getting heart problems, however, diabetic and immunocompromised patients are at higher risk apart from people with periodontitis (gum disease).

Dr Bhalla says once infective endocarditis occurs it is a serious and life-threatening condition, especially in those people who have mechanical or artificial cardiac parts.

Treatment

According to Dr Fernandes, the treatment includes several weeks of antibiotics or other medicine and sometimes surgery. “With quick, aggressive treatment, many people survive. Without treatment, endocarditis can be fatal,” cautions Dr Fernandes.

The dental treatment according to Dr Kamra includes professionally cleaning the pockets around teeth to prevent damage to the surrounding bone. “Advanced cases may require flap surgery (a reconstructive dental surgery),” explains Dr Kamra.

Dr Bhalla believes that the condition can be prevented and pre-empted with good oral health and timely visits to the dentist. “Knowing what precautions are to be taken in case you have a predisposing condition is important,” he explains.

Dr Fernandes says a doctor should be consulted if a person has a persistent oral infection, inflammation and fever above 100°F, apart from pain and redness. “Sometimes you may experience that the sores aren’t healing and there might be white patches in your mouth or tongue while some people might experience nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea apart from shortness of breath and poor appetite followed by weight loss,” she says.

Some other symptoms to watch out for are:

  • Muscle and joint aches
  • Skin rash
  • Internal bleeding
  • Sore throat or pain when swallowing
  • Headache and nasal congestion
  • Persistent cough

According to Dr Kamra, a person with symptoms of oral infection may experience bad breath or bad taste that won’t go away. “Some people may experience pain in chewing and the gums may turn red or swollen or could be bleeding. For some, the teeth may experience sensitivity or could become loose because the infected gums can’t secure them,” she says. Also, the gums may pull away from the teeth, causing gum recession.

How diabetic difficulties could creep into your heart

Diabetes and heart disease are closely linked. Diabetes doubles the risk of developing heart disease or having a stroke quite early in life. But the good news is you can reduce your risk of heart disease and improve your heart health by changing your lifestyle habits.

Sixty-eight-year-old TR Rohini’s blood readings were borderline diabetic, but aside from some muscle discomfort she was happy she didn’t need to see any doctor.

“But when I noticed a breathing problem during the first Covid-19 lockdown, we decided to consult a doctor,” says the resident of Idukki, Kerala. “A burning sensation in the chest and dyspnoea led to some elementary tests including angiography. But the angiography revealed three blockages that needed immediate care. Angioplasty was done the same day. Within two days, I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.”

Since then, Rohini has quit eating sugar and also limited her carbohydrate intake as per doctor’s instructions.

Diabetes and heart disease are closely linked. Diabetes doubles the risk of developing heart disease or having a stroke quite early in life. The longer you have diabetes, the more likely you are to develop heart disease.

But the good news is you can reduce your risk of heart disease and improve your heart health by changing your lifestyle habits. These changes will also help you manage your diabetes better.

Diabetes’ heart effects

Over time, high blood sugar levels can harm the blood arteries and nerves that control the heart. Diabetes is more likely to be associated with other illnesses such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol, which raise the risk of developing heart disease.

High blood pressure increases the force of blood through the arteries and can cause arterial walls to deteriorate. The risk of heart disease can significantly increase if a person has both high blood pressure and diabetes. Too much low-density lipoprotein (LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol) in the bloodstream can cause the formation of plaque, which damages the artery walls.

High triglycerides (blood fat) and low high-density lipoprotein (HDL or ‘good’ cholesterol) or high LDL are likely to contribute to artery hardening.

Many people develop cardiovascular disease (all diseases affecting the heart and blood vessels) as they age, but this is avoidable.

A healthy lifestyle, especially when followed since a young age, can help prevent cardiovascular disease. Lifestyle changes and medications can halt heart-harming trends such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Cardiovascular disease tends to strike people with diabetes earlier than healthy people.

Over the course of an average lifetime, the heart beats about 2.5 billion times, pumping millions of gallons of blood throughout the body. This constant flow carries a variety of vital cells as well as oxygen, fuel, hormones and other substances. Additionally, it removes metabolic waste. Essential processes fail when the heart stops, some of them almost immediately.

Heart failure has been identified as a common consequence of diabetes, with a prevalence of up to 22 per cent in diabetics, with an increasing incidence rate.

Dr V Mohan, a veteran diabetologist and director of diabetes research at the Madras Diabetes Research Foundation, says diabetes can affect the heart in many ways. “Coronary artery disease, which leads to heart attacks, is much more common in people with diabetes,” he told Happiest Health. “People with type 2 diabetes can get heart disease at a younger age and it can be more severe, while people without diabetes may get one or two vessels blocked. It is more common in people with diabetes to have three or more vessels getting blocked. The severity of the blocks can also be more.”

Dr Mohan explains it in this way: complications among people without diabetes occur at the age of 60 or 65 and can happen among those with diabetes at 45 or 50. “Moreover, diabetes can affect the heart muscle directly,” he says. “This is called diabetic cardiomyopathy. This can increase the incidence of heart failure among people with diabetes, which is two to three times higher than in people without diabetes.”

Diabetes can also affect the heart rhythm because of cardiac autonomic neuropathy. So, the heart rate may either go down or, more commonly, it may increase. “We call it resting tachycardia,” he says. “When the heart rate increases, the heart unnecessarily beats many times extra in a minute. For example, if the heart beats 60 times a minute or 100 times a minute, the same amount of blood is sent out from the heart. So those extra 40 beats per minute are, in a sense, a waste as far as the body is concerned, and it can lead to the heart eventually getting worn out.”

Looking at it another way, if one does the simple math, 40 times per minute into 60 times per hour into 24 times per day into 365 times a year, one will realise that millions of times the heart is beating extra unnecessarily — with no benefit.

ABC principle

It is possible for people with diabetes to prevent heart disease. But for this, Dr Mohan says, they should follow the ABC principle:

  • A — A1c or glycated haemoglobin, a measure of the control of diabetes over the last three months. This must be maintained under very good control (i.e., at least about 6 per cent)
  • B — blood pressure. It must be maintained as normal as possible (preferably around 120/80)
  • C – cholesterol. Particularly the bad cholesterol, which must be kept under control

Yoga, relaxation, pranayama, etc. can help to improve health and keep the heart healthy.

A heart-healthy diet comprises plenty of green leafy vegetables and some fruit, an overall reduction in carbohydrates, an increase in the protein content of the diet and healthy fats.

Regular exercise is also important. It can be in the form of walking, jogging, swimming, cycling, dancing or another form of exercise. Resistance training and some flexibility exercises will also be beneficial.

“Needless to say, smoking is one of the important causes of heart attacks, and this must be completely avoided by people with diabetes,” says Dr Mohan. “Moderation in alcohol intake is also needed.”

Heightened risk

Dr J Amalorpavanathan Joseph, a veteran vascular surgeon who established and headed the Tamil Nadu government’s organ transplant authority, says diabetes can affect every organ, right from the eye to the foot.

“If it is the heart that takes the hit from diabetes, it weakens the heart cells, so the heart becomes enlarged,” he says. “Secondly, it also causes blocks in the heart. Third, it weakens the vessel walls — so the heart becomes dilated like a cycle tube. So, all three are possible challenges before the heart if there is diabetes.”

Dr Jospeh, who currently works with MGM Health Care, a multi-speciality hospital in Chennai, says high blood pressure (hypertension) increases the strain on the heart. So, heart failure occurs very early. Hypertension also produces blocks in the heart vessels and weakening of the blood vessels — leading to an aneurysm, which is the dilatation of the heart system like a cycle tube.

“It can happen in hypertension also,” he says. “So, both hypertension and diabetes are very bad for the heart. Around 30 to 40 per cent of people with heart problems will have diabetes or hypertension. Besides heavy smoking, these are the major reasons for cardiovascular diseases. Compared to these, congenital diseases or heart diseases developed during pregnancy are less than 10 per cent.”

Dr Joseph says lesser intake of salt and sugar, fewer carbohydrates, more exercise and no smoking are the lifestyle changes advised to people with diabetes and heart diseases.

Yolklore: Are eggs okay for your heart?

Egg lovers have often defended their favourite food, claiming that the egg yolk has been wrongly accused of being a cholesterol-spiking agent. But recent research shows that moderate consumption of egg yolk could be a healthy dietary choice.

So, are eggs cardiac friendly or not? This has been a topic of debate in health circles for long.

Often, egg-centric diet lovers have strongly defended their favourite food claiming that it has wrongly been accused of spiking cholesterol levels. The main argument revolves around the egg yolk which has been branded as a cholesterol-spiking agent.

But recent research seems to have partially debunked this, claiming that moderate consumption of egg yolk could be a healthy dietary choice — especially since it comes cocooned in a protein-rich egg-white covering.

 

Experts speak

Happiest Health spoke with some experts to crack the egg-cholesterol myth and understand if a whole egg is to be feared or if a yolk-free egg is a better choice to make. Also, how many eggs is too many eggs?

Dr Punish Sadana, associate director, cardiac sciences, Max Super Speciality Hospital, Dehradun, Uttarakhand, dismisses egg’s association with heart disease. “For many years, there was a belief that cholesterol found in eggs contributes to heart disease, but recent research shows that the LDL (bad cholesterol) and HDL (good cholesterol) ratio remains unchanged or improves because eating eggs causes increase in good cholesterol,” he says.

Dr Sadana says although egg yolk contains cholesterol, recent studies have shown that dietary cholesterol is not a nutrient of concern as it is a tiny portion of the cholesterol produced by our liver. “Also, yolk is good source of vitamin A, D, E, K and minerals. So, yolk should only be avoided if it is advised by a nutritionist,” he says.

Dr Mini Joseph, HOD, department of home science, Government College for Women, Thiruvananthapuram, agrees. “Dietary cholesterol is not a major factor in cardiovascular disease (CVD),” she says. According to Dr Joseph, since studies have not shown enough evidence between dietary cholesterol and blood levels, there is no need to restrict eggs too much.

Most foods rich in cholesterol are also high in saturated fatty acids and thus may increase the risk of CVD due to the saturated fatty acid content, but the exceptions are eggs and shrimp. Eggs contain high-quality protein with minimal saturated fatty acids (1.56gm/egg) and are rich in several micronutrients including vitamins and minerals. Therefore, it would be worthwhile to include eggs in moderation as a part of a healthy eating pattern.

Delhi-based nutritionist Kavita Devgan says saturated fat is not the devil any more if we go by latest research. “Unless you already have a cholesterol problem, the cholesterol content in the egg is not so much of an issue,” she says. “Then too, the yolk in moderation is perfectly fine.”

Devgan says eggs help cut down the risk of heart disease because of a lesser-known compound called betaine, which helps reduce levels of homocysteine (i.e., amino acids, high levels of which are associated with heart disease) in the blood. “So, when there are less plasma homocysteine concentrations in blood, it reduces the risk of cardiac disease,” she says.

Dr Prabhakar Koregal, senior consultant, intervention cardiology, Fortis Hospital, Cunningham Road, Bengaluru, says there is no impact on cardiac health and cholesterol when eggs are consumed in moderate quantities. “While it is safe to consume an egg with yolk every day if you are having more than one egg per day, it is advisable to remove the yolk of the second egg and then consume it,” he says.

So, if you are looking at getting a good amount of protein and benefits from eggs, it is best to stick to egg whites mostly.

Dr Joseph says it is mostly people who are overweight or obese who should watch their overall dietary cholesterol since they need to reduce fats and cholesterol, which add to weight and other health issues.


Eggs with benefits

Egg is one of the most affordable sources of protein that has all the omega acids. Dr Sadana says eggs are an easy option to include in the diet because they are a great and affordable source of proteins, vitamins and minerals (like zinc, calcium), and various antioxidants.

According to nutritionist Devgan, egg yolks are rich in carotenoids (natural fat-soluble pigments) like lutein and zeaxanthin (both yellow-colour pigments), which are very good for the eyes. “These two carotenoids are known to protect the eyes from ultraviolet light, and some studies have shown that including these in your diet keeps cataract at bay and also brings downs age-related macular degeneration (which can lead to blindness),” says Devgan.

Also, egg yolk has a component called choline that helps in the normal function of all cells. “It leads to improved brain functioning and greater lifelong memory capabilities,” says Devgan.

 

Cook it right

How eggs are cooked also affects their nutritional profile. “While an egg can be cooked in various ways, overcooking can destroy some of its nutrients, so it is best to poach or boil eggs because no oil is required in the process,” says Dr Sadana.

He says boiling (as opposed to frying) limits egg’s exposure to air, which reduces the oxidation of the yolk and keeps the nutrients intact. “When we fry eggs, the cooking duration increases and destroys its nutrients, and uses oil,” says Dr Sadana.

Dr Joseph says if you are going to fry eggs the best way is to use oil sparingly for cooking. She suggests using local oils, preferably cold-pressed ones. “Using two or more different types of unrefined oil is good as different oils have different nutrients and properties,” she says.

 

How much is too much?

Bengaluru-based dietician Deepalekha Banerjee of 360 Degree Nutricare says eggs are full of nutrition, but when it comes to protein intake it is the quantity one is consuming according to one’s weight, height and condition that matters.

For senior citizens the advised protein intake is 1.5gm per kg body weight every day and for an adult with no comorbidity it is 1gm per kg body weight every day of protein intake.  So, if you are consuming both non-vegetarian and vegetarian protein sources along with eggs you should calculate your protein intake keeping the rest of the protein content in mind.

Another thing to be kept in mind is the health condition. “If somebody has a severe kidney disease, then they may be advised very little protein,” she says.

Banerjee usually advises people in their mid-thirties or 40 and above to stick to one or two egg yolks in a week. “At this age — because of sedentary lifestyle, mostly above 35 — co-morbidities start settling in and that’s when you need to take professional nutritional advice to have an optimum protein count to be consumed on daily basis,” she says. “A sedentary lifestyle leads to moderate or nil physical activity that is not sufficient for calorie burn and weight management. Hence, one must be extra cautious on calorie and protein intake to avoid obesity.”

For someone only looking at having egg whites, it is safe to have as many as desired considering other sources of protein they are including in the diet.

“One serving of egg white contains around 11gm of protein, so to meet the optimum protein count per day, including eggs, you need to consult a nutritionist and follow a certain diet,” says Banerjee.

“For malnourished people, eggs are not only good but also a cheap and convenient source of vitamins, minerals, proteins and fats,” says Dr Sadana. Eggs also contain a good number of antioxidants like lutein and choline which help in prevention of cardiovascular diseases.


Side effects

Some doctors say sometimes the body itself tells you when you need to steer clear of eggs. “These symptoms could be abdominal pain, bloating, etc, which means you have an egg allergy,” says Dr Sadana. He says for some people eating more than three to four eggs per day can cause insulin resistance. It can also cause hormonal acnes for some people because of progesterone content.

What’s more to watch out for? Eating unpasteurized raw eggs should be avoided since they contain harmful bacteria like salmonella that cause abdominal problems.

“Egg yolks provide a good source of biotin (water-soluble vitamin B7) but when it comes to raw egg whites, they contain a protein called avidin which binds with biotin and hampers its absorption and depletes biotin,” says Dr Sadana. So, cooking is important because it destroys the avidin protein and the beneficial biotin gets absorbed.

Catching some Zs could
help your heart too

Sleep medicine doctors are assessing people with heart conditions and diabetic issues to diagnose and treat sleep disorders as a way to healthy living.

In June 2022, the American Heart Association added sleep as an essential factor for optimal cardiovascular health. According to the new sleep metric, 7-9 hours of daily sleep is ideal to optimise cardiovascular health in adults, and more for children depending on age. The other health and lifestyle factors in the checklist are nicotine exposure, physical activity, diet, weight, blood glucose, cholesterol, and blood pressure.

“The new metric of sleep duration reflects the latest research findings: sleep impacts overall health, and people who have healthier sleep patterns manage health factors such as weight, blood pressure, or risk for type 2 diabetes more effectively,” said the American Heart Association President Donald M. Lloyd-Jones, who led the advisory writing group and is chair of the department of preventive medicine, in a press statement during the announcement.

Now called Life’s Essential 8, the latest addition – “Sleep duration” – is said to be a key parameter in maintaining a healthy heart. Measured by average hours of sleep per night, the ideal level is found to be 7-9 hours daily for adults. Ideal daily sleep ranges for children are 10-16 hours per 24 hours for ages 5 and younger; 9-12 hours for ages 6-12 years; and 8-10 hours for ages 13-18 years.

Corroborating the findings, Dr Rajpal Singh, Director and Interventional Cardiologist, Fortis Hospital, Bengaluru, told Happiest Health, “A good 7-9 hours of timely, uninterrupted sleep has scientifically shown to reduce the prevalence of hypertension, cerebrovascular events, and cardiac complications.”

However, slumber alone is not enough to keep your heart happy and healthy. Including a regular fitness regime and making appropriate lifestyle changes, i.e., alcohol in moderation, smoking cessation and dietary changes, could have a positive and meaningful clinical impact,” he added.

“Even stress-induced sleeplessness, poor sleep, and bad sleep habits could make one prone to high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes,” said Dr Jagdish Hiremath, Interventional Cardiologist and Chairman of Aasra hospital. He further cautioned that a person should not go into a sleep debt. “Your body keeps a count of how much sleep it lacks,” explained the doctor.

Sleep and heart connection

So why is sleep so important for the heart? Sleep gives your heart and vascular system the much-needed rest. During non-rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, the heart rate and blood pressure are progressively low as you enter deeper sleep. During REM sleep, in response to dreams, your heart and breathing rates could rise and fall and your blood pressure could also vary.

According to Your Guide to Healthy Sleep, a book published by the US Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, and National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, “These changes throughout the night in blood pressure and heart and breathing rates seem to promote cardiovascular health. If you don’t get enough sleep, the nightly dip in blood pressure that appears to be important for good cardiovascular health may not occur. Failure to experience the normal dip in blood pressure during sleep can be related to insufficient sleep time, an untreated sleep disorder (for example, sleep apnoea), or other factors. Some sleep-related abnormalities may be markers of heart disease and increased risk of stroke.”

In addition, snoring is said to increase the risk of developing diabetes and heart disease. Experts say that regular snoring may raise the lifetime risk of developing high blood pressure, heart failure, and stroke.

Assessment by sleep doctors is a must

Dr Pavan Yadav, Lead Consultant-Interventional Pulmonology and Sleep Medicine, Aster RV hospital, Bengaluru, told Happiest Health, “The research to establish the correlation between sleep and cardiovascular health was going on for last few years, and finally sleep has now been added to the heart health checklist. It is definitely a vital factor to be considered. Anything to do with a heart attack or arrhythmia could result out of sleep issues a person may be having.”

Commenting on how sleep deprivation can affect the heart, the doctor elaborated, “The heart is like a pump. If there is an obstruction, an issue is likely to crop up. Hence, sleep obstructions and disorders can lead to complications of the heart and increase the risk of abnormal heart rhythms, which can lower blood pressure.”

A lot relies on sleep

“If you see the Western population, obesity is on the rise, which is causing an uptick in heart ailments. This again leads to sleep issues. If we look at the science behind this, we’ll see that low oxygen level disrupts sleep, and sleep disorders like sleep apnoea are increasing as well. When the oxygen level in the body drops, the heart is affected in turn,” Dr Yadav added. This happens because humans ideally sleep for 8 hours a day, which amounts to 1/3rd of our day spent sleeping. When low oxygen pressure is created during this duration, the pressure on the heart gradually increases, reasoned the doctor.

“Nowadays, cardiologists are referring persons with cardiac disorder and uncontrolled diabetes to me to assess if they have any underlying sleep issues. To get to the root of the problem, we undertake clinical assessments in multiple ways and investigate if they snore and whether they feel refreshed or tired in the morning after waking up from sleep. We also assess daytime sleeping, their consumption of coffee and tea, and whether they are putting on weight. We also do an overnight sleep study where we check a person’s heart rate and oxygen levels by connecting multiple electrodes to examine their sleep patterns,” Dr Yadav pointed out.

During such assessments, pulmonologists also monitor how the oxygen levels of the patient function. Dr Yadav said that there are people who have 98-99 per cent of oxygen saturation (SpO2), determining the percentage of oxygen in someone’s blood, and in some people the SpO2 dips to 40-60 per cent, which becomes a critical value for assessing heart risks.

Sleep conditions that affect heart health

During normal sleep, blood pressure stays low. Those who face sleep problems tend to have a higher blood pressure, which directly affects the heart and is a reason to develop heart-related ailments and problems.

  • Sleep apnoea – This occurs when the airways are blocked repeatedly during sleep, leading to difficulty in breathing for short amounts of time. Sleep apnoea affects how much oxygen a body gets while sleeping and increases heart-related problems.
  • Insomnia – This is a condition where there is trouble falling asleep, staying asleep or both. Insomnia is linked to high blood pressure and heart disease. Prolonged and frequent episodes of insomnia can lead to heart health issues, including higher stress levels, lack of motivation, lower energy and unhealthy food choices.
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