Sleep Apnea

I have always wondered why my heart is enlarged. I was told it was due most likely to hypertension (which sounds plausible...except, I have never had high blood pressure). 10 years ago, I was told I had mild sleep apnea after a sleep study, but other being told to lose weight (I weighed approx 115 lbs; 5' 1") my doctor didn't consider it a problem. Now I now weigh about 105; but recently my new primary care doctor recommended another sleep study and it shows moderate sleep apnea. I now wonder if it was a big contributor to my heart disease? I will be fitted for CPAP next week, any heart sister using one or any comments on the sleep apnea and heart disease (chicken or the egg:-)

Report post

13 replies. Join the discussion

I have both issues also in addition to weight gain. Years ago I noticed a increasing fatigue, blacking out spells, then weight gain, then started snoring according to my kids. Told I was too heavy and this caused the snoring and the heart disease. I required a Cpap machine for OSA. When I look back on things now, I saw a pattern of fatigue, blacking out, snoring and then weight gain and then diagnosed with heart disease and apnea. In the 70's I had a virus that required vitamin shorts by weekly was greatly fatigued. Complained to Dr. and of course the Big D word came up DEPRESSION. I was no more depressed at that time in my life than I am now. I am not a person who has these types of issues. I am very BUSY and was more than fulfilled with my foster parenting that I was doing at the time. I was going thru the change of life issues and thought the fatigue, weight gain was the hormonal balance issues. I now know it was Heart Disease rearing its ulgy head. I am on the Coreg now and my EF has gotten better, but I am very concerned about the weight issue that I am seeing with it.

Report post

My cardiologist originally said that the CHF was most likely congenital. Then I had a sleep study and they concluded I have "central sleep apnea" (which means I stop breathing during sleep). After that the doctor said that sleep apnea most likely caused the CHF. I do stop breathing sometimes when I'm concentrating on something, so maybe over the years it stressed my heart...I don't know.

I have a CPAP machine which I used pretty much faithfully for a year and a half, although I never did get used to it and had to take Ambien to go to sleep. A few months ago we moved and my asthma kicked in, and I couldn't cope with the CPAP on top of that and quit using it. Now that the asthma has once again disappeared, I suppose I should go back to it, but I dread it. I detest that forced air blowing up my nose all night.

I'm not the doctor, but I'm not convinced the CPAP makes much, if any, difference in my life. My energy is really low, but it was low when I was using the machine too. When I had good days I'd attribute it to that, but I have good days now and think it's the B-12 supplement I've been taking. One thing I've noticed since I stopped using the CPAP is my stomach doesn't feel painfully bloated all the time. I don't remember being this tired before I was put on Coreg and Cozaar, and I've been reading on this site that those meds can cause fatigue.

I've been taking medication for depression for years, and it hasn't given me any kind of energy boost - the will is there but the body is lagging behind.

A year or so ago I went to a naturapathic doctor, and he went through my entire life history. His comment was that I'd had a lot of hurt in my life and my heart is tired.

I wish you luck with the CPAP and hope it makes a difference in your life.

Kay

Report post

Dear Ladies,

I am wondering if you have a thyroid problem. The test here in Canada has a THS test that has limits that are way too high for most of us, and consequently when we get this test we appear to have a normal Thyroid. This was my case for years and I became sicker and sicker. I have a disease called Hashimotos which in the years before I was finally treated caused many lung problems as if I had severe Asthma and I would cough all the time when I lay down.

I became very depressed and was on a very high dose of antidepressants which didn't help either as it was all part of my Thyroid disease. I then also developed sleep Apnea and Atrial Fibrillation also caused by my Thyroid disease. AFib is very difficult to diagnose without wearing a heart monitor and I finally persuaded my new GP to allow me to have this test where I wore a heart monitor for 24 hours then 48 hours, and both tests came back positive for AFIB.

I was sent to a thyroid specialist who put me on a low dose of Synthroid which helped a bit, but I was still by this time putting on 7 pounds a month. I left both my previous GP and the Specialist and went to a Dr. Hui on Toronto who put me on desiccated Thyroid the old form of treatment for Thyroid problems and this did the trick for me. I lost 55 pounds over about 7 months without dieting and my lung symptoms cleared up as well as my depression. I also weaned myself off my high dose of antidepressants which had also contributed to my weight gain and sleep Apnea.

After a year and a half, my AFIB has almost stopped completely and my sleep Apnea has gone and my energy is back and my depression has gone. There is a test for Hashimotos which shows up as antibodies. I suggest you both get this test, because without the desiccated thyroid meds I was heading to an early grave, and without fixing, which is a life-long treatment the Hashimotos I would have remained very sick until I died. I have to keep my THS level at the cusp of hyperthyroid or I feel ill again, so I do have to adjust my meds myself. Now I know when I have them right by just how I feel.

I am one of millions of women who struggle with this autoimmune disease which causes one's own body to attack one's thyroid, but the medical profession has little training in the symptoms of this disease so it is a real battle to find a doctor who is acquainted with this disease and who will prescribe the only medication that has worked for me, and for millions of other women. Hypothyroid can cause and enlarged heart too and with this medication it goes back down to a normal size in a few months. before this medication I was in AFib for hours every day and especially when I was lying down or in bed at night. It was truly debilitating and a horrible feeling. I described it to my new heart doc as an orgasm with none of the pleasure my heart was beating so hard.

I was married to a GP and he just thought I was a crazy Hypochondriac and simply didn't understand, or refused to understand how ill I really was. He sent me to his friend the heart specialist to try and confirm me as a crazy Hypochondriac and was shocked to find out from his friend how ill I had been. Feeling so guilty for having shouted at me for years he left me. So my battle was long and hard back to health. I mention this as sadly we women are not listened to even by a doctor living with us. I lost the full use of my legs too with this disease and was falling all the time and endured agonizing cramps all night in both my legs. I had a blood test that was similar to the one used when a person has some terrible muscle injury after they are crushed in an earthquake. The docs thought it was strange, but since they didn't know why I had this bad test as with all things they don't understand brushed it off.

I would stagger along hitting the walls and fell asleep at the wheel all the time, and also crashed the car, but none of these symptoms rung any bells as the all the doctors I went to didn't know of the varied symptoms of this disease. Not knowing why this was happening they also brushed it off. My legs are fine now and work again and I do not fall asleep at the wheel or fall down the stairs or stagger like a drunk when I don't even drink. I thought I had a brain tumor of MS it was so bad.

All through this time my THS was within normal limits, but they hadn't tested for Hashimotos. My personal THS is less than 1, that is where I feel normal and I have no symptoms.

When I read both your posts, I feel that you may also have this disease which is very common. I think I had it for about 20 years and one of the first symptoms was depression. I had reason to be depressed so I just thought it was my life.

I hope you can get this test, and it may be what is causing you three to have such problems. Worth a try anyway. If you have this disease and you can find a doc who will treat you with desiccated Thyroid medication you may all go on to enjoy good health again.

All the best, Diana

Report post

Thanks Diana,

My thyroid is always tested (TSH, T3, T4) at least every 6 months, some times if I am referred to new doctor more often. I think they assume I have Grave's Disease because of my white hair, it been this color since my thirty's. I don't take anti-depressants, but do take Ativan 0.5 mg when my heart starts to race. Thanks for sharing your insights.

Have a great day!

Sue

Report post

He left you because he felt bad about treating you badly?! That takes the cake!!

I also have an underactive thyroid and take generic synthroid. I started on the lowest dose and am now on the next step up. My primary doc orders an annual lab test to keep an eye on things. However, I understand that some docs treat the symptoms regardless of the lab results. Also, there are different lab tests besides the basic TSH. You don't necessarily need an endochrinologist; many ENT docs are really good at treating thyroid problems. The trick is finding a good one!

Report post

Several of our friends (all men) have sleep apnea and they either LOVE the CPAP or HATE it, there doesn't seem to be much middle ground. I'm hoping for the best :-)

Report post

...just for the record, I'm happily married. I think that remark was intended for someone in the thread.

Report post

Hi Diana (me again), Life can be so unfair. Know you have a friend in Florida that cares :-)
If I'm having my thyroid tests by TSH, T3, T4 - are there other tests that might benefit me?
Thanks,
Sue

Report post

HI Sue it is a long time since I have seen you on board. I was only looking at my friends list this week and wondering how you are doing.

I worry at night when I hear my husband stop breathing. I often need to nudge him to get him to start again and I 've been doing this for over 30 years lol!!! He has an enlarged heart too and hypertension also he had a mitral valve problem fixed recently. He is slim and fit, never smoked and really doesn't fit the characterture some paint of a person with sleep apnea but I'm certain he has it! (though he wouldn't agree)

My friend uses one of those Cpap I think she finds it uncomfortable I must ask her though if she finds it helpful and I will report back.

Carol

Report post

Diana, thank you for the information about Hashimotos. I was shocked to read your message and I am definitely going to request the test for this. I have had hypothyroidism since my 20's, and take generic Synthroid. The doctor keeps lowering my dosage and each time she does that I get more tired and gain weight. I have had intermittent asthma...no symptoms for months or even a couple of years, then constant coughing for 2 or 3 months. I was diagnosed with depression 20 years ago, and antidepressants help but not much (or maybe they don't really help at all).

All of this makes me seriously wonder if my thyroid is at the bottom of all these problems. I went to the Mayo Clinic website and read about Hashimotos - weight gain, depression, fatigue, hoarse voice, muscle aches, pain and stiffness in hands...and an ENLARGED HEART! How can doctors not put all this together??

Again, thank you so much for sharing your story.

Kay

Report post

Carol.. so good to hear from you. I've been so busy, even though I read the comments it seems I don't take or make the time to comment :-/ Wouldn't it be nice if doctors actually talked to each other and stopped throwing medicine at a condition until a diagnosis is made??

Report post

I had years of heart problems that nearly took my life. My new cardiologist said"Hmmm-do you snore?" When I said yes-like a buzz saw(and I am not overweight) and my mother and sister (who both died of heart disease) both snored also.He ordered a sleep study.The lab study first said "mild sleep apnea" but he didn't believe the test so had it re-run plus an in home three day
study and they revealed "severe" sleep apnea which caused oxygen levels to go down to 70%(dangerous). I am now on a bi-pap
and use the nasal pillows and nighttime oxygen and love it! I still have fatigue but am sure it is from the Coreg as I didn't have it before taking that drug. I have now asked my pulmonologist to allow me to discontinue oxygen for one night to see how I do and feel on my own wearing an at home oxygen finger monitor.
I told my doctor that he should be tested for sleep apnea too and he laughed but did do the sleep study and now he uses a c-pap!
He feels that much of my heart problems were caused by the apnea. I feel that I had a genetic propensity toward heart arrhythmia
that was aggrivated by the undiagnosed sleep apnea.
Chicken or the egg? Make mine scrambled!
Shamal

Report post

Shamal...that was brilliant - I'll be smiling the rest of the day :-)

Report post

This discussion is closed to replies. We close all discussions after 90 days.

If there's something you'd like to discuss, click below to start a new discussion.

Things you can do

Support WomenHeart

Help WomenHeart reach its goals and support people like yourself by making a donation today.

Donate to  WomenHeart

Discussion topics

Heart health links and resources


The SCAD Ladies Stand Up -- Read the special report

Community leaders

Disclaimer

The information provided by this online support network through WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease and Inspire is for general informational purposes only. The information is not intended to substitute for professional medical advice, diagnoses, or treatment. If you are ill, or suspect that you are ill, see a doctor immediately. In an emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room. WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease never recommends or endorses any specific physicians, products or treatments for any condition.