Emerging co-morbidities of obstructive sleep apnea: cognition, kidney disease, and cancer

J Thorac Dis. 2016 Sep;8(9):E901-E917. doi: 10.21037/jtd.2016.09.23.


Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) causes daytime fatigue and sleepiness, and has an established relationship with cardiovascular and metabolic disease. Recent years have seen the emergence of an evidence base linking OSA with an increased risk of degenerative neurological disease and associated cognitive impairment, an accelerated rate of decline in kidney function with an increased risk of clinically significant chronic kidney disease (CKD), and with a significantly higher rate of cancer incidence and death. This review evaluates the evidence base linking OSA with these seemingly unrelated co-morbidities, and explores potential mechanistic links underpinning their development in patients with OSA, including intermittent hypoxia (IH), sleep fragmentation, sympathetic excitation, and immune dysregulation.

Keywords: Cognitive impairment; cancer; chronic kidney disease (CKD); continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP); sleep apnea.

Publication types

  • Review