Patients with obstructive sleep apnea have an abnormal peripheral vascular response to hypoxia

J Appl Physiol (1985). 1999 Sep;87(3):1148-53. doi: 10.1152/jappl.1999.87.3.1148.


Patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) have been reported to have an augmented pressor response to hypoxic rebreathing. To assess the contribution of the peripheral vasculature to this hemodynamic response, we measured heart rate, mean arterial pressure (MAP), and forearm blood flow by venous occlusion plethysmography in 13 patients with OSA and in 6 nonapneic control subjects at arterial oxygen saturations (Sa(O(2))) of 90, 85, and 80% during progressive isocapnic hypoxia. Measurements were also performed during recovery from 5 min of forearm ischemia induced with cuff occlusion. MAP increased similarly in both groups during hypoxia (mean increase at 80% Sa(O(2)): OSA patients, 9 +/- 11 mmHg; controls, 12 +/- 7 mmHg). Forearm vascular resistance, calculated from forearm blood flow and MAP, decreased in controls (mean change -37 +/- 19% at Sa(O(2)) 80%) but not in patients (mean change -4 +/- 16% at 80% Sa(O(2))). Both groups decreased forearm vascular resistance similarly after forearm ischemia (maximum change from baseline -85%). We conclude that OSA patients have an abnormal peripheral vascular response to isocapnic hypoxia.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Blood Pressure / physiology
  • Female
  • Forearm / blood supply
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Regional Blood Flow / physiology
  • Respiratory Mechanics / physiology
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / physiopathology*
  • Vascular Resistance / physiology*