Background and objective: There is an increased risk of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular events in patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). High-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) is a marker that predicts atherosclerotic complications. However, there are contradictory results about the correlation between serum hs-CRP levels and OSA severity. The purpose of this work was to evaluate the relationship between hs-CRP levels and the severity of OSA in newly diagnosed OSA patients.
Methods: The study group was composed of 76 patients with clinical suspicion of OSA. Subjects with body mass indexes (BMI) ≥30 kg/m(2) were classified as obese. Full-night polysomnography (PSG) was performed on all patients. Patients with an apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) ≥5 were considered to have OSA, and patients with an AHI <5 were accepted as the control group. Blood samples were taken from all patients to analyze serum hs-CRP levels the morning after PSG.
Results: The serum hs-CRP levels were significantly higher in the OSA group (4.03 ± 3.58 mg/L) than in the control group (2.41 ± 1.95 mg/L) (p = 0.013). This high level was positively correlated with BMI (r = 0.376, p = 0.001) and with AHI (r = 0.280, p = 0.014). In multiple regression analysis, elevated hs-CRP levels were associated with AHI (F = 3.293, p = 0.033), which was independent of obesity.
Conclusions: Patients with OSA have elevated serum levels of hs-CRP, a marker for inflammation and an independent risk predictor for cardiovascular morbidity. The severity of OSA is responsible for the elevation of hs-CRP.