Snoring, independent of sleep apnea, is not a risk factor for mortality or cardiovascular disease, according to Australian researchers at the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research.

In their world-first study, the experts determined that individuals who snored the majority of the night were not more likely to die within the next 17 years than those who snored a mere 12% of the night or less.

Prior to this trial, studies have suggested that sleep apnea may increase the risk of death and that loud snoring is linked to a higher risk of heart disease and stroke, but it has never been confirmed whether snoring alone results in a greater risk of cardiovascular disease.

The investigation consisted of 380 participants, both men and women, from the distinguished Busselton Health Study in Western Australia. These people had been involved in a trial in 1990 which had the patients use a device to monitor snoring and sleep apnea.

The evidence sheds light on long-term effects, regardless of previous studies which claimed that snoring may be linked to an increased risk of stroke. Most previous trials examined rates of snoring from self-reports.

Dr Nathaniel Marshall, lead author of the study, from the Woolcock Institute & the University of Sydney Nursing School, commented:

“Because we snore only when we are asleep we are not really aware of it. So we rely on other people to tell us we snore. So in some cases people may be unaware they snore of may believe that when they are told they snore it is simply a one-off event and not their normal type of sleep.”

He continued, “We do know already from this study that sleep apnea increases cardiovascular disease risk. Some of our colleagues are also looking closely to see whether snoring by itself might increase stroke risk in people whoa re highly susceptible.

However, the good news at the moment seems to be that snoring, by itself, does not seem to appreciably increase cardiovascular disease or death rates.”

Although snoring statistics are often conflicting, it is believed that at least 30% of adults snore.

Senior author of the study and Head of Sleep and Circadian Research, Ron Grunstein, explained, “Obstructive sleep apnea is a diseasethat medical practitioners as well as the general public need to take seriously. Snoring is certainly an acoustic problem to bed partners but not a condition that is likely of itself to cause cardiovascular harm.”

The report reiterates the importance of being educated on snoring’s ability to affect health. Therapies and medical assessments are available to help people who believe they might need treatment.

A 2011 study claimed that thyroid surgery can reduce snoring and other symptoms of sleep apnea.

Although it is now known that snoring is not linked to heart problems or higher risk of death, snoring has been associated with behavioral problems in children, as well as hypertension in pregnant women.

Written by Christine Kearney