15:42 01 July 2012
According to a new study, heavy snorers are at a greater risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.
A recent research conducted in Taiwan recently revealed that patients who have snoring-related health problems such as sleep apnea face almost twice the risk of suffering from a joint-damaging disease such as rheumatoid arthritis. The discovery came as a surprise since rheumatoid arthritis was originally associated with problems with the immune system.
Aside from rheumatoid arthritis, the study also revealed that these people also had an increased risk of autoimmune disorders.
Some scientists proffered that the connection between snoring-related problems and rheumatoid arthritis is due to the fact that sleep apnea can cause the blood vessels to become inflamed, which may trigger arthritis.
Sleep apnea have already been associated with heart attack risks in the past, but it is the first time that the disorder is linked to joint disease. The researchers explained that since a large number of sleep apnea cases are unreported, the connection between the two diseases “may have gone unnoticed in clinical settings.”
The study, which was conducted by experts from Taipei Medical University, compared 1,411 sleep apnea patients with 7,000 healthy adults. The study lasted for five years, during which the numbers of participants from both groups who developed rheumatoid arthritis and other joint-damaging diseases were compared. The other joint-damaging diseases that were considered included ankylosing spondylitis and systemic lupus erythematous, both of which causes the joints to become inflamed.
The results showed that the group of sleep apnea patients was 91% more likely to develop any one of the three joint-damaging diseases, and that among the three diseases, the risk was highest for rheumatoid arthritis. The study, however, showed that the risk of actually developing the diseases is quite small, but this is no reason to overlook this potential link. If both conditions are not diagnosed and treated, sufferers may experience much pain and may end up crippled and unable to live normally.
The complete results of the study were published in the Sleep Medicine journal.
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