Sleep-related breathing disorders and cardiovascular disease

Am J Med. 2000 Apr 1;108(5):396-402. doi: 10.1016/s0002-9343(00)00302-8.


Sleep-related breathing disorders, ranging from habitual snoring to the increased upper airway resistance syndrome to sleep apnea, are now recognized as major health problems. The majority of patients have excessive daytime sleepiness and tiredness. Neuropsychological dysfunction results in poor work performance, memory impairment, and even depression. Until recently, the coexistence of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases with sleep-related breathing disorders was thought to be the result of shared risk factors, such as age, sex, and obesity. However, in the past 5 years several epidemiologic studies have demonstrated that sleep-related breathing disorders are an independent risk factor for hypertension, probably resulting from a combination of intermittent hypoxia and hypercapnia, arousals, increased sympathetic tone, and altered baroreflex control during sleep. Sleep apnea may lead to the development of cardiomyopathy and pulmonary hypertension. Early recognition and treatment of sleep-related breathing disorders may improve cardiovascular function.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / physiopathology
  • Cerebrovascular Disorders / etiology*
  • Cerebrovascular Disorders / physiopathology
  • Death, Sudden / etiology
  • Heart Failure / etiology
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / etiology
  • Myocardial Infarction / etiology
  • Myocardial Ischemia / etiology
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / complications*
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / physiopathology
  • Stroke / etiology