December 19, 2008 (Milan, Italy) – For the first time, researchers have shown that treating mild to moderate gum disease in otherwise healthy volunteers improves endothelial dysfunction and significantly reduces carotid intima media thickness (IMT), as measured by echo Doppler. The report by Dr Stefania Piconi (Hospital Luigi Sacco, Milan, Italy) and colleagues was published online December 12, 2008 in the FASEB Journal [1]. Source

“The novelty of this study is that this is the first physical evidence that you can reverse a lesion that is already growing in the intima by doing something as simple as taking care of your gums,” – immunologist and senior author Dr Mario Clerici (University of Milan, Italy) told heartwire. “To tell you the truth, we were really surprised by the result, but it turned up in subject after subject.”

If you snore, your nightly noises may be a source of aggravation for the people around you, but snoring may actually be harmful to your health.

According to a story recently published in the journal Sleep, snoring is associated with a higher risk of carotid atherosclerosis, which is the accumulation of plaque in arteries that supply blood to the brain.

The researchers brought in 110 participants, including people who snored and others who didn’t. The participants underwent a sleep study, in which their snoring and breathing patterns were measured while they slept. They also underwent ultrasound assessment of their carotid arteries to measure atherosclerosis. People who snored more often were much more likely to have carotid atherosclerosis, but curiously, not atherosclerosis in the arteries in their legs. One of the possible connections between snoring and this health risk is the vibration of the snoring. All that rattling in your throat may vibrate your carotid arteries, particularly a specific spot where plaque often forms. Researchers know that this vibration damages cells in artery walls, which could trigger the early
formation of atherosclerosis.

This buildup of plaque can then set the stage for a stroke if a blood clot forms on the plaque blocking the artery, or if a piece of plaque breaks loose and becomes wedged in a smaller artery in your brain. According to the National Institutes of Health, more than half of all strokes in the United States are caused by plaque buildup in the carotid arteries, also known as carotid artery disease.

Methods for reducing snoring, as recommended by the National Sleep Foundation, include losing weight (this is the most effective step), sleeping on your side, avoiding alcohol several hours before bedtime, not smoking, and wearing a special device in your mouth that a dentist can prescribe.

Source: Lee, et al, Heavy Snoring as a Cause of Carotid Artery Atherosclerosis, Sleep, Sept. 1, 2008