Snoring? Here’s what it’s doing to your heart!

I'm sure you've heard the term "silent killer" thrown around for conditions like high blood pressure and cancer.

But one of the most dangerous conditions of all isn't silent.

It's loud and in some cases deafening!

The crazy thing about this NOISY killer is that if you have it yourself, you probably won't hear a thing... because all that racket only arrives when you're sound asleep.

It's called sleep apnea, and those noises are the room-shaking snores that often mark the disease.

Now, the latest research reveals how waking up your spouse -- and maybe even the neighbors -- is the least if your worries if you have this condition.

You could be shaking your heart right out of its rhythm!

If you have sleep apnea, you're facing a higher risk of atrial fibrillation, or the nation's most common irregular heartbeat condition.

It's not only frightening when you feel your ticker galloping like a spooked horse.

It's also deadly, increasing your risk of a stroke and often leading to a lifetime on meds so dangerous that the side effects can literally kill you.

The problem isn't the snoring itself. Not when it comes to your heart, anyway. (What snoring does to your marriage might be another story).

When you have sleep apnea, those loud snores are followed by brief periods of total silence -- and in those moments, you're not only quiet.

You're not breathing.

Those short lapses cut off oxygen, lowering the levels in your body so that your vital organs don't get what they need.

The worse your apnea, the lower the oxygen levels -- and, the study finds, folks who have the lowest levels of all ALSO have the highest risk of developing atrial fibrillation.

And that's not the only risk here.

Other studies have found that apnea patients face a higher risk of nearly every deadly chronic disease in the book, from dementia to heart disease.

It'll even boost your risk of death.

Since you can't watch yourself sleep, the warning signs to look for are waking up feeling like you haven't rested, morning headaches, sore throats, and daytime sleepiness.

The other warning sign is your spouse sending you to the sofa because you're snoring so much!

Don't go to the sofa. Go to your doctor, who can refer you to a sleep clinic for a proper diagnosis. If you have it -- if you even THINK you have it -- the treatment is usually a simple one.

Lose some weight.

Apnea is often caused by weight gain, and dropping those extra pounds will ease or even cure the condition.