Sleep disordered breathing (SDB) is a common disorder in both adults and children and is caused by the obstruction of the upper airway during sleep. Unlike adults, most cases of paediatric SDB are due to the presence of enlarged tonsils and adenoids, thus the main treatment option is adenotonsillectomy (T&A). It is well known that obstructive sleep apnoea in adults increases the risk for hypertension, coronary artery disease and stroke, and there is now mounting evidence that SDB also has a significant impact on the cardiovascular system in children with reports of elevated blood pressure, endothelial dysfunction and altered autonomic cardiovascular control. As there is now substantial evidence that elevated blood pressure in childhood is carried on to adulthood it is important to know if treatment of SDB improves cardiovascular outcomes. Studies in adults have shown that treatment of SDB leads to improvements in cardiovascular function, including a reduction in pulmonary artery pressure, systemic blood pressure and endothelial dysfunction. However, studies exploring the outcomes of treatment of SDB in children on the cardiovascular system are limited and varied in their methodology and outcome measures. As a number of cardiovascular disturbances are sequelae of SDB, early detection and management could result in the reduction of elevated blood pressure in children, and consequently a reduction in cardiovascular morbidity in adulthood. The aim of this review is to summarise the findings of studies to date which have investigated the cardiovascular outcomes in children treated for SDB and to make recommendations for future management of this very common disease.
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