Sleep apnea: clinical investigations in humans

Sleep Med. 2007 Jun;8(4):400-26. doi: 10.1016/j.sleep.2007.03.003. Epub 2007 May 2.


Sleep apnea syndrome (SAS), a common disorder, is characterized by repetitive episodes of cessation of breathing during sleep, resulting in hypoxemia and sleep disruption. The consequences of the abnormal breathing during sleep include daytime sleepiness, neurocognitive dysfunction, development of cardiovascular disorders, metabolic dysfunction, and impaired quality of life. There are two types of SAS: obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) and central sleep apnea syndrome (CSAS). OSAS is a prevalent disorder in which there is snoring, repetitive apneic episodes, and daytime sleepiness. Anatomical conditions causing upper airway obstruction (obesity or craniofacial abnormalities such as retrognathia or micrognathia) can cause OSAS. CSAS, much less common than OSAS, is a disorder characterized by cessation of breathing which is caused by reduced respiratory drive from the central nervous system to the muscles of respiration. The latter condition is common in patients with heart failure and cerebral neurologic diseases. The diagnosis of SAS requires assessment of subjective symptoms and apneic episodes during sleep documented by polysomnography. Treatments of OSAS include continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), oral appliances, and surgery; patients with CSAS are treated with oxygen, adaptive servo-ventilation, or CPAP. With assessment and treatment of the SAS, patients usually have resolution of their disabling symptoms, subsequently resulting in improved quality of life.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology
  • Cheyne-Stokes Respiration / epidemiology
  • Cognition Disorders / epidemiology
  • Continuous Positive Airway Pressure / methods
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Heart Failure / epidemiology
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / epidemiology
  • Metabolic Syndrome / epidemiology
  • Polysomnography
  • Prevalence
  • Quality of Life / psychology
  • Risk Factors
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / diagnosis*
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / epidemiology
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / therapy
  • Snoring / epidemiology