The Link Between Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Cardiovascular Disease

Curr Atheroscler Rep. 2016 Jan;18(1):1. doi: 10.1007/s11883-015-0556-z.


Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is common in the general population and highly prevalent in patients with cardiovascular disease. In this paper, we review (1) the pathophysiological mechanisms of OSA that may causally contribute to cardiovascular disease; (2) current evidence regarding the association between OSA and hypertension, stroke, ischemic heart disease, heart failure, atrial fibrillation, and cardiovascular mortality; and (3) the impact of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment on cardiovascular risk factors and outcomes. We emphasize the importance of obesity as a comorbidity of OSA and a confounder in the association between OSA and cardiovascular disease. We also discuss the importance of addressing obesity in patients with OSA, as a strategy to reduce the burden of cardiovascular risk factors in this population. Implications for the approach of patients' OSA in clinical practice and future research directions are discussed.

Keywords: Cardiovascular disease; Continuous positive airway pressure; Hypertension; Inflammation; Obesity; Obstructive sleep apnea.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology*
  • Comorbidity
  • Continuous Positive Airway Pressure
  • Humans
  • Obesity / complications
  • Risk Factors
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / epidemiology
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / etiology*