Untreated obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is increasingly recognized as a risk factor contributing to cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Research in recent decades has uncovered many components of the complex pathological events leading to the atherosclerotic vascular diseases in OSA, which involve heightened oxidative stress as a result of intermittent hypoxia, vascular inflammation, activation of platelet and coagulation cascades, endothelial dysfunction and ultimately the formation of atherosclerotic plagues. The close association of OSA and conventional cardiovascular risk factors including hypertension, diabetes mellitus, dyslipidemia and obesity adds to the adverse cardiovascular sequelae. Further studies are required to clarify further on the pathophysiological processes, and the effect size of OSA therapy, and other potential preventive strategies.
Keywords: Obstructive sleep apnea; artery disease; atherosclerosis; cerebrovascular accident; coronary; endothelial dysfunction; inflammation; intemittent hypoxia; oxidative stress.