Carotid intima-media thickness increase in patients with habitual simple snoring and obstructive sleep apnea syndrome is associated with metabolic syndrome

J Clin Ultrasound. 2013 Jun;41(5):290-6. doi: 10.1002/jcu.22040. Epub 2013 Mar 14.


Objectives: Sleep disorders are emerging risk factors for atherosclerosis. Increased carotid intima-media thickness (CCA-IMT) is a surrogate marker of cardiovascular risk. The aim of the present study was to investigate the relationship between CCA-IMT and habitual simple snoring or obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) and the other cardiovascular risk factors.

Methods: Sleep disorders were diagnosed and staged by polysomnography. Patients were then classified into either habitual simple snoring (n = 20, group 1) or OSAS (n = 67, group 2), which was subclassified as mild-moderate (n = 27) or severe (n = 40). CCA-IMT was measured by B-mode ultrasonography. The other major risk factors were investigated.

Results: The mean CCA-IMT was 0.65 ± 0.02 mm (mean ± SD) in group 1 versus 0.75 ± 0.02 mm in group 2 (p = 0.03). Using CCA-IMT ≥ 0. 9 mm as the threshold value also yielded significant results between the two groups (p = 0.03). The mean CCA-IMT did not differ between patients with mild-moderate and severe OSAS, whereas metabolic risk factors and metabolic syndrome (MS) were more prominent in the latter. Age, MS, neck and waist circumference, waist/ hip circumference, and fasting glucose level were higher in patients with CCA-IMT ≥ 0.9 mm.

Conclusions: CCA-IMT increase was associated with OSAS, but did not correlate with its severity, which could be due to the higher incidence of MS in this group.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anthropometry
  • Carotid Arteries / diagnostic imaging*
  • Carotid Intima-Media Thickness*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Metabolic Syndrome / complications
  • Metabolic Syndrome / physiopathology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Polysomnography
  • Risk Factors
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / complications
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / diagnostic imaging
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / physiopathology*
  • Snoring / complications
  • Snoring / diagnostic imaging
  • Snoring / physiopathology*