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Heavy Snoring Linked to Carotid Atherosclerosis

Associated with a more than 10-fold higher risk

FRIDAY, Sept. 5 (HealthDay News) -- Heavy snoring is associated with a more than 10-fold higher risk of carotid atherosclerosis but not with femoral atherosclerosis, researchers report in the Sept. 1 issue of Sleep.

Sharon A. Lee, and colleagues from the University of Sydney at Westmead Hospital in New South Wales, Australia, examined whether snoring was associated with carotid or femoral atherosclerosis in 110 volunteers (aged 45 to 80 years) who underwent polysomnography and had only mild, non-hypoxic obstructive sleep apnea hypopnea syndrome. Patients were classified as mild snorers (0-25 percent night snoring), moderate snorers (26-50 percent night snoring) and heavy snorers (over 50 percent night snoring).

The researchers found that the prevalence of carotid atherosclerosis increased with increasing snoring. Carotid atherosclerosis was present in 20 percent of mild snorers, 32 percent of moderate snorers and 64 percent of heavy snorers, the report indicates. After adjusting for a number of factors, heavy snoring significantly increased the risk of carotid atherosclerosis (odds ratio 10.5) but was not associated with femoral atherosclerosis, the authors write.

"Heavy snoring significantly increases the risk of carotid atherosclerosis, and the increase is independent of other risk factors, including measures of nocturnal hypoxia and obstructive sleep apnea severity," Lee and colleagues conclude. "In addition, our study provides support for the hypothesis that snoring vibration transmission is one of the pathophysiologic mechanisms associated with the development of carotid atherosclerotic plaque."

One of the study authors reports a financial relationship with the pharmaceutical industry.

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