We’ve always known that that heavy snorers are at increased risk for stroke. But a recent study from Australia showed that carotid artery narrowing in the worst snorers was 10 times higher than those who snore the least. In typical scientific journal fashion, a much larger sample size was said to be needed to establish a casual relationship. You can read a layman’s summary here from the New York Times. The authors proposed that perhaps vibrations themselves can damage the thin inner wall lining, leading to plaque buildup and eventual narrowing.
There are many more published articles that associate snoring with stroke. We know that a significant percentage of people who snore will have obstructive sleep apnea, and sleep apnea is strongly linked to stroke. The frustrating thing is that despite regular reports like this that warn of the the dangers of snoring, people continue to equate snoring as something to be laughed at and doctors continue to treat the end effects of obstructive sleep apnea (such as hypertension, diabetes, depression, anxiety, heart disease, heart attack and stroke). At least once per week, I see a younger snoring patient that tells me that his (or her) father snored heavily and suffered a stroke or a heart attack in their 40s or 50s. The frightening thing is that we know now that you don’t even have to snore to have obstructive sleep apnea.