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Sleep Apnea In Pregnancy Linked With Increased Risk Of Hypertension; Ways To Control It

With a pillow between your knees, lie on your side. Roll onto your side and bring your knees too close together to get out of bed. Swing your legs onto the ground while supporting yourself with your arms.

A study has found that sleep apnea during pregnancy could increase the risk of hypertension later in mothers. Here's how you can manage sleep apnea to avoid that risk.

Written by Arushi Bidhuri |Updated : February 17, 2022 3:01 PM IST

Sleep Apnea is a sleep breathing disorder in which the airway becomes partially or totally obstructed while sleeping. A new study published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine found that preeclampsia, or persistently high blood pressure during pregnancy that can lead to major health effects, and/or gestational diabetes have been linked to sleep disturbed breathing during pregnancy (diabetes that develops during pregnancy). These and other negative pregnancy outcomes put the woman at risk for hypertension and metabolic disorders later in life.

The study included 1,964 women who were pregnant for the first time and were part of the Nulliparous Pregnancy Outcomes Study: Monitoring Mothers-to-be Heart Health Study, as well as 1,222 women who were assessed 2-7 years after delivery. The researchers next looked to see if the subjects had a higher risk of hypertension or metabolic syndrome. Researchers of the study said that the occurrence of sleep apnea during pregnancy and two to seven years after delivery was linked to the development of hypertension and metabolic syndrome. To understand how sleep apnea occurs and how it can be managed, we talked to Dr Hemangi Negi, Senior Consultant, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Max Hospital, Vaishali.

Sleep Apnea During Pregnancy

Dr Negi said, "Pregnant patient is more at high risk for developing sleep apnea and therefore they are at higher risk of developing respiratory suppression and medication should be limited and used during pregnancy. When a patient develops sleep apnea during pregnancy, it should be managed with the help of multidisciplinary doctors and should include a specialist in sleep medicine and anaesthesia as well as an obstetrician."

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"As for the study, some 15 per cent of the women those were diagnosed with sleep apnea were obese and they were suffering from high blood pressure so obesity is an important factor for sleep apnea and then pregnancy can also increase the risk of sleep apnea in women who are already obese."

Common Symptoms Of Sleep Apnea

Dr Negi pointed out that in order to manage sleep apnea during pregnancy, it is important to know the signs and symptoms of sleep apnea, which include:

  • Snoring that is excessively loud or continues for an extended period of time
  • Lack of concentration/difficulty to focus owing to exhaustion
  • Silent pauses in breathing when sleeping
  • Having trouble sleeping and staying awake

Sleep Difficulties Can Lead To Complications

Not only does sleep difficulties during pregnancy lead to hypertension, but these problems can also lead to other health complications as well:

  • Headache
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Poor memory
  • Lack of concentration
  • Daytime lethargy/sleepiness
  • Low appetite
  • Obesity/weight gain
  • Swelling,
  • High blood pressure
  • High blood sugar
  • Heart disease
  • Psychiatric disorders
  • Stroke in pregnant women

Ways To Manage Sleep Apnea In Pregnant Women

While sleep apnea can affect pregnant women, there are some ways suggested by the expert that can help them overcome the problem:

  • One of the most essential strategies for preventing sleep apnea is to encourage healthy weight gain during pregnancy.
  • Insufficient sleep during pregnancy can trigger hormones linked to weight gain and have a negative impact on metabolism. Sleep apnea can be avoided by exercising regularly and eating a healthy, balanced diet.
  • To lessen their chances of developing sleep apnea, pregnant women should keep the same bedtime and waketime every day, restrict caffeine consumption, especially after 1 p.m., and limit screen time before bed.

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