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Sleep apnea and heart disease: let's face some hard facts.

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This was written on a bad day. Today is a great day!

The point of this article is we can stay in denial about a lot of things---- but when it comes to our health denial isn't going to get you better... only we can make changes. I know I have heart disease. I do not snore. I do have some awful sleepless nights. Because of that I had a sleep study done. I was told I needed to use a CPAP machine. This is why:

Moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea increases the risk of coronary heart disease or death by 68% in people under the age of 70. Previous studies have also found an increased risk of death linked to the night-time breathing disorder, but the studies have generally involved only small groups of patients, often those who are hospitalized, and most included few or no women. The new study, reported in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Assn., is by far the largest study to date.

I hated hearing it and did not want to accept it. A year later without a lot of improvement in areas that should have improved I listened to the doctor explain why I need to use a CPAP. It bugs me, I feel old, I feel weird. But, guess what... I want to be alive for a lot longer. So here is my whine. I feel better now. Your turn to whine about anything you want after you read this.

I am fighting bronchitis right now so I am on Azithromycin. I have been taking my vitamins: Vitamin D, Chelated Cal-Mag, Super B, CoQ 10, Lovaza – prescription strength fish oil. Except for this bout with bronchitis I’m almost 100% on a Mediterranean diet for my heart disease, limiting all white foods.

Unfortunately with ulcers and bronchitis there is nothing like a bowl of Canter’s chicken soup with a good bagel or piece of rye bread.

Daily I take Toprol to lower my blood pressure, Crestor & Zetia to keep my cholesterol outstandingly low and Plavix to keep my blood thin and flowing through my stent in my left descending artery. A baby aspirin is also swallowed to keep every thing flowing through the pipes.

All this medication daily reminds me that I have heart disease so I take Buspirone to help with anxiety and Efferox XR to help with depression. I’m weaning off Efferox – down to low doze every few days. I’m depressed about it, but I have to cut something out.

The strong meds and aspirin therapy supposedly is the culprit in my newly diagnosed ulcers, ulcers as in 7 in my stomach. So I drink Carafate every eight hours and take Nexium in the morning and Ranitidine, prescription strength Zantac, in the evening. The news says Nexium and Plavix are not a good combination. Umm, which one should be cut out? Right now my Cardiologist and Gastrologist are keeping me on both. Maybe they didn’t read the Wall Street Journal’s recent artery on taking both.

When I worry too much it causes a break out, so I need to take Valtrex. Right before bed I take Diazepam hopefully to help bring a calming effect to my sleep. But, I just had a sleep study and was told by my Neurologist that I stop breathing 16 times a hour, but only during REM. Average person with sleep apnea stops breathing in an hour 6 times, regardless of REM or not. Here’s the trick average amount of REM sleep is 20 minutes – mine lasts for over two hours. That’s a lot of dreaming, I call nightmares, and a lot of interrupted sleep because my brain luckily wakes me up because I stopped breathing. Thank God for my brain. But, it’s my brain that is dreaming too long and if I would not dream as long, I would not stop breathing. My brain and I need to talk to my therapist. We will go Monday.

One extra precaution is I wear a sticky square of Minitran (nitroglycerin transdermal delivery system) to help with angina. Hard to distinguish angina from heartburn, this can’t help but feel due to the ulcers.

I guess I should have kept my uterus and ovaries back in 2001 when I opted to have them removed in one quick pluck through my belly button. I didn’t know that meant medical menopause putting me at a higher risk for heart disease. I also didn’t know I was a candidate for heart disease because up to 2003 when I was diagnosed with coronary artery disease, no one bothered to mention that it is women’s number one killer. I knew my dad died prematurely of heart disease, it crushed my life at 27 years of age – but he was a man and anyway only my brothers were supposed to get heart disease.

I’m going to add some lemon to my tea, I don’t know what else to do with my bitterness. I’m not always bitter. I look at my daughters and I am so thankful for them. I look at pictures and also dream of my grandchildren and start all over at the top of this list. I get a glass of water, take my pills, hope for the best, and pray I live a long, happy life with more good hair days than not.

How’s that for honesty?

Lois Trader's new book will be available this March. A book every women needs to read! http://loistrader.com

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