In the study involving 10 adults, the research team found that the prevalence of carotid atherosclerosis was 20 percent with mild snoring, 32 percent with moderate snoring and 64 percent with heavy snoring.
Heavy snoring is an independent risk factor for developing early carotid atherosclerosis, which may progress to be associated with stroke.
"Heavy snorers may be at risk for the development of carotid atherosclerosis, which is the leading cause of stroke," said lead author and study coordinator Sharon Lee, associate professor and director of the Ludwig Engel Centre for Respiratory Research at Westmead Hospital in Australia. "
"Heavy snorers...should have a review of all their risk factors for vascular disease," she added.
During the study, the participants between 45 to 80 years were examined in a sleep laboratory. They were categorized as snorers and non-snorers with only mild, nonhypoxic obstructive sleep apnea.
They underwent polysomnography with quantification of snoring, bilateral carotid and femoral artery ultrasound with quantification of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular risk assessment.
Based on results, participants were deemed mild snorers (0-25 percent night snoring), moderate snorers (greater than 25-50 percent night snoring) and heavy snorers (more than 50 percent night snoring).
The report appears in the Sept. 1 issue of the journal Sleep.