Previous research in 2011 has suggested that high blood pressure in pregnancy may be explained by the infiltration of white blood cells into an expectant mother's blood vessels.Louise O'Brien, Ph.D., leading author and associate professor in U-M's Sleep Disorders Center, explained:
"We found that frequent snoring was playing a role in high blood pressure problems, even after we had accounted for other known risk factors. And we already know that high blood pressure in pregnancy, particularly preeclampsia, is associated with smaller babies, higher risks of pre-term birth or babies ending up in the ICU."
Consisting of over 1,700 subjects, this research is believed to be the largest of its kind, while also being the first to indicate that pregnancy-onset snoring presents a great risk to maternal cardiovascular health.
The most known symptom associated with sleep-disordered breathing is habitual snoring, which is explained as snoring three to four nights a week. Approximately 25% of subjects began snoring regularly during pregnancy, doubling the chances for high blood pressure, compared to those who didn't snore.The results, according to O'Brien, imply that nearly 19% of hypertensive disorders during pregnancy could be alleviated through medical care of any underlying sleep-disordered breathing.Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is a machine that these women can use to treat sleep-disordered breathing.
The machine needs to be worn during sleep while it uses mild air pressure to keep the airways open. O'brien believes that it is possible CPAP use may reduce high blood pressure, and is currently conducting more research to test her idea.