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Sleep apnea may affect heart.

Reader: I am writing this letter on behalf of my wife, who is experiencing racing of her heart when she awakens at night, which occurs four to five times. This also occurs during the day if she takes a nap.

About one year ago, she underwent an echocardiogram where she walked on a treadmill, then she laid down and was monitored. They discovered a slight prolapsed valve. She was given a 24-hour heart monitor, which revealed her heart does race, but not very long. The cardiologist said that the racing was not that prolonged, and the rate was not sufficient to be concerned about.

My wife thinks she may have sleep apnea. She has not taken a sleep test for sleep apnea. She is very concerned about this problem.

Dr. Zipes: Sleep apnea is being recognized more and more as an important problem. It is easily evaluated by sleep experts using a sleep lab, and treatment can greatly alleviate symptoms. While sleep apnea can cause symptoms of a racing heart, the latter can be due to other problems as well. I would suggest your wife wear the monitor once again to document the abnormal heart rhythm and get a sleep study. Then, depending on the results, appropriate treatment can be instituted. Mitral valve prolapse is very common, especially in women, and may not necessarily play an important role.
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Title Annotation:HEART HEALTH: ASK DR. ZIPES: A noted cardiologist answers your questions.
Author:Zipes, Douglas
Publication:Saturday Evening Post
Date:Jul 1, 2006
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