You may be one of millions of Americans diagnosed with high blood pressure or hypertension and not aware that sleep apnea could be contributing to your problem. Lowering of your blood pressure may be difficult if sleep apnea causes remain undiagnosed or untreated. What Causes Heart Disease and Sleep Disordered Breathing? What causes heart disease is often linked to sleep disordered breathing and associated with snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. Snoring typically preceeds the cessation of breathing, signaling a weak, thickened or closed airway. Occurring multiple times during the night, the heart has to work harder, raising blood pressure signaling the need for even more oxygen. Coronary Artery Disease and OSA In patients already experiencing Coronary Artery Disease (CAD), their arteries are smaller and flow is constricted due to the fatty material and plaque inside them. When you experience obstructive sleep apnea as a CAD patient, the risks for damage or even greater. The mechanisms that trigger sleep apnea lie in the muscle tone in the back of the throat or airway, leading to a narrowing and closing during sleep. This lapse of 10-60 seconds deprives the body of oxygen, resulting in both an increase in heart rate and blood pressure and can occur many times during the night. Because sleep apnea causes this repeated spike in blood pressure and heart rate, undesirable stress is placed on the heart, potentially leading to other more serious cardiovascular and health risks such as stroke and diabetes.