Patients with sleep disordered breathing (SDB) are at increased risk for cardiovascular disease including hypertension, angina, myocardial infarction, and stroke. Neurohumoral and hemodynamic responses to untreated sleep apnea are likely mechanisms that produce functional and structural changes within the cardiovascular system. Obesity, higher blood pressure, and advancing age, which are common characteristics of patients with SDB, contribute to the overall risk for cardiovascular disease. Recent studies indicate that OSA is associated with or aggravates other risk markers for cardiovascular disease. These factors include leptin, C-reactive protein, homocysteine, and insulin resistance syndrome. Elevations in C-reactive protein and glucose intolerance may be correlated with the severity of SDB. The impact of alleviating SDB on these cardiovascular risk factors has not been fully elucidated. Regardless, assessment of overall cardiovascular risk in patients with sleep apnea is warranted to identify those individuals that are high-risk who require immediate attention and intervention or in those that should be treated more aggressively.
Copyright 2002 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.