TODAY | January 26, 2013
>>> now to a revealing story about snoring. you may think of it as annoying or just an inconvenience. new research suggests it's much more serious, possibly even worse than smoking or obesity. gabe gutierrez has details. [ snoring ]
>> reporter: it's a constant battle in bedrooms.
>> roll over, please.
>> reporter: now a wake-up call. snoring is serious.
>> it affects my sleep patterns. it affects how i perform at work.
>> reporter: jim kelly broke his nose in high school and hasn't slept well since. just ask his wife.
>> you can hear it through the walls. and it reverberates, and it's the really deep, throaty snore occasionally. and so, yeah, it -- it can be a nuisance. [ snoring ]
>> reporter: a new study shows it's just the beginning. doctors at henry ford hospital in detroit examined 54 patients. turns out those who snore head thicker carotid arteries , that could slow blood flow to the brain, putting snorers at greater risk for heart disease than being overweight, smoking, or having high cholesterol . how significant is the study?
>> i think it actually has a fairly great deal of significance.
>> reporter: dr. scott liebovitz is a sleep specialist at the piedmont heart institute in atlanta. he says this is evidence that heart problems could be linked to isolated snoring. long before someone is diagflows wednesday sleep apnea -- diagnosed with sleep apnea .
>> previously snoring was an aesthetic problem. something that could bother bed partners, an announrknnoyancannoyance. this shows it could cause blocked arteries.
>> reporter: the study has drawbacks. among them, authors admit that participation rate was somewhat low. it's partly why they say more testing is needed. still, jim kelly isn't taking any chances. with an 18-month-old son to take care of, kelly recently had sinus surgery.
>> it's cut down on the vibrations that was causing a lot of the noise that was coming from the snoring.
>> reporter: though he'll likely need more surgeries, he says the recovery time is worth it to get rid of a snore he can no longer ignore. for "today," gabe gutierrez, nbc news, atlanta.