Spring 2005
Ask The Experts

Snoring

Herbert Scherzer, MD
I wake up every morning feeling exhausted, even though I get 6–8 hours of sleep and don't have any memory of waking up in the night. My wife complains that I snore a lot–which keeps her awake. Can snoring be causing my tiredness?

Herbert Scherzer, MD, medical director of Bridgeport Hospital's Center for Sleep Medicine, responds:

Snoring is caused by vibration of the soft, flexible tissues in the back of your nose and mouth. As the tissues vibrate they also block the airway—so you get less oxygen when you sleep.

These vibrations can be caused by poor muscle tone in the tongue and throat; excess tissue in the throat; an unusually long uvula (that little thing that hangs down at the back of your throat); or obstructed nasal airways.

A sleep study in a laboratory environment such as Bridgeport Hospital's Center for Sleep Medicine may be necessary to determine how serious the blockages are and what effects they have on your health.

Snoring can be cured. Treatments include diet, changing your sleep position, special devices to keep your airway open, and if need be, surgery.

Cholesterol

J. Marshalko, MD
I'm in my 70s and have high blood pressure. I have heard that the desirable cholesterol levels are now lower than ever. What's the goal now?

Cardiologist Stephen J. Marshalko, MD, of the Heart Institute at Bridgeport Hospital, replies:

You are correct–Federal health officials have sharply lowered the recommended levels for cholesterol in the blood.

You are in the category of people at moderate-to-high risk for heart disease. (This group includes those with high blood pressure, older people, and those who smoke.) Your LDL cholesterol (the bad kind), is a good gauge of your personal risk—better, in fact, than total blood cholesterol.For people in your category, here are the new numbers:

If your levels are higher than 100, ask your physician if you would benefit from cholesterol-lowering drugs.