Obstructive sleep apnea causes interruptions in breathing while a person sleeps—the most common symptom is snoring. According to a scientific statement from the American Heart Association (AHA), in children and adolescents this problem has the potential to increase blood pressure and is associated with changes in the structure of the heart, which would affect cardiovascular health over time. of the years
This document was prepared by specialists from the entity, based on a review of different studies. By interrupting normal restorative sleep, apnea would affect the immune, metabolic and cardiovascular systems, as well as emotional health. The condition affects about 6% of children and adolescents.
According to the association, the blood pressure level is about 10% lower while we sleep. However, young people with obstructive sleep apnea show a smaller reduction, which opens the door to hypertension in the future. The disorder would also favor the elevation of triglycerides and blood pressure, in addition to reducing the levels of HDL, known as good cholesterol.
Excess weight is among the main risk factors for obstructive sleep apnea. About 60% of adolescents with obesity have the condition, points out the AHA.
“The severity of apnea can be reduced with weight loss. We need to recognize sleep-disordered breathing as something that can contribute to hypertension and cardiovascular disease,” warns, in a press release, Carissa Baker-Smith, cardiologist who led the creation of the declaration.
Risk factors and symptoms
Obesity is not the only condition that predisposes to breathing disorders during sleep, such as obstructive apnea. Enlarged tonsils and even the child’s facial structure can promote the disease. AHA includes allergic rhinitis, low muscle tone, neuromuscular disorders and sickle cell disease.
The entity emphasizes that the risk of sleep disorders increases in children who were born prematurely. This is due to the delay in the development of respiratory control and the smaller size of the upper airways. However, the probability decreases as the months pass.
The AHA recommends parental attention to the following symptoms: habitual snoring more than three nights a week, sighing or labored breathing during sleep, sleeping in a sitting position, daytime drowsiness, headache on waking, and signs of upper airway obstruction. When observing this, look for an expert.
Also because there are treatments, such as the CPAP device, which unblock the airways, controlling the situation.