Snoring is often overlooked as a contributor to poor sleep and related health problems. Picture: Thobeka Zazi Ndabula

London - Snoring heavily almost doubles the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, a study reveals.

Researchers found those diagnosed with the snoring-related condition sleep apnoea were nearly twice as likely to suffer the disease.

Sleep apnoea occurs when the muscles in the airway relax during sleep, which disrupts breathing and triggers snoring.

In the five-year study by Taipei Medical University, in Taiwan, 1,411 sleep apnoea patients were compared to 7,000 healthy adults.

Researchers monitored how many went on to develop arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis and lupus erythematous – conditions causing painful joints.

The snoring-affected group were 91 percent more likely to develop one of them. Scientists said they think sleep apnoea can lead to inflammation in blood vessels, which may act as a catalyst for arthritis. - Daily Mail