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Snoring Alone Without Sleep Apnea, Not Risky: Study

Update Date: Sep 28, 2012 07:20 AM EDT

A new study by researchers from Australia, for the first time, has demonstrated that objectively measured snoring, without more serious sleep apnea, does not increase mortality or cardiovascular disease.

Previous studies from the same team of researchers had established that sleep apnea increases mortality risk but until now, it was not clear if snoring by itself increases the risk of cardiovascular disease.

The current study conducted by the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research has revealed that people who snore for most part of the night were at no higher risk of death over the next 17 years, when compared to those people who snored only during 12 percent or less of the night or did not snore at all.

For the study, the researchers studied a sample of 380 people, consisting of members from both genders from the highly influential Busselton Health Study from Western Australian. The participants of the study underwent investigation with a home sleep apnea and snoring monitoring device in 1990.

The current analysis helps establish the accuracy of some clinic or hospital-based studies which claim that there are long-term risks of snoring alone, and this might increase the risk of stroke.

"Because we snore only when we are asleep we are not really aware of it. So we rely on other people to tell us we snore," lead-author Dr Nathaniel Marshall, from the Woolcock Institute & the University of Sydney Nursing School was quoted as saying by Medical Xpress.

"So in some cases people may be unaware they snore or may believe that when they are told they snore it is simply a one-off event and not their normal type of sleep.

"We do know already from this study that sleep apnea increases cardiovascular disease risk. Some of our colleagues are also looking closely to see whether snoring by itself might increase stroke risk in people who are highly susceptible. However the good news at the moment seems to be that snoring, by itself, does not seem to appreciably increase cardiovascular disease or death rates."

"Obstructive sleep apnea is a disease that medical practitioners as well as the general public need to take it seriously. Snoring is certainly an acoustic problem to bed partners but not a condition that is likely of itself to cause cardiovascular harm," Professor Ron Grunstein, senior author on the study and Head of Sleep and Circadian Research, Woolcock Institute & the University of Sydney Medical School said.

The authors say that the public needs to be aware of the potential impact of snoring on their health and quality of life. There are effective treatments available and it is important to carry on a detailed medical assessment in order to find the best treatments.

The study is published in September 2012 edition of the journal SLEEP.

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