Expert Commentary

Relationships Between Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Cardiovascular Disease

Paul Knoepflmacher, MD

Clinical Instructor of Medicine
Mount Sinai School of Medicine
New York, New York

During the past several years, the relationship between cardiovascular disease (CVD) and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) has been the subject of intense investigation. The Wisconsin Sleep Cohort study, for example, examined a large, population-based cohort for the prevalence of OSA, the role of OSA in cardiovascular and behavioral morbidity and mortality, and risk factors for the development and progression of OSA. The results agree with other large population-based research, such as the Sleep Heart Health study, demonstrating that OSA is often associated with CVD, including hypertension, stroke, and heart failure. A number of studies at the 2009 World Association of Sleep Medicine meeting further examined the relationship between OSA and CVD. Together, these data suggest that pathophysiologic mechanisms associated with OSA contribute to the development of CVD. Thus, early recognition and treatment of OSA may reduce the risk of CVD and improve cardiovascular parameters.


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