Heart failure affects about 90,000 people in the United Kingdom. Characterised by a failure of the heart to sufficiently pump blood around the body, heart failure usually stems from other heart-related conditions such as high blood pressure or coronary artery disease, which leave the heart too weak or stiff to fill and pump blood efficiently.
Inefficient blood pumping means less oxygen reaches vital tissues, causing the characteristic shortness of breath common to heart failure patients and other nonspecific symptoms such as dizziness and fatigue.
In addition, 30-50% of patients with heart failure also suffer from central sleep apnea (CSA) – a breathing disorder that causes breathing pauses of more than 10 seconds during sleep. Symptoms of CSA are similar to those of heart failure (ie, frequent awakenings, poor quality sleep, shortness of breath, and fatigue) which means CSA often goes undetected.
Unfortunately people who suffer from both heart failure and CSA have a prognosis worse than that attributable to heart failure alone. The authors of this review, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, discuss the mechanisms behind this worse prognosis, including how fluctuating levels of oxygen increase oxidative stress and inflammation.
Click here to read more.